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Animal Intimacies

Interspecies Relatedness in India’s Central Himalayas

Radhika Govindrajan

Animal Intimacies

Radhika Govindrajan

256 pages | 27 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2018
Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226559988 Published May 2018
Cloth $85.00 ISBN: 9780226559841 Published May 2018
E-book $10.00 to $27.50 About E-books ISBN: 9780226560045 Published May 2018
What does ­it mean to live and die in relation to other animals?  Animal Intimacies posits this central question alongside the intimate—and intense—moments of care, kinship, violence, politics, indifference, and desire that occur between human and non-human animals. 
Built on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the mountain villages of India’s Central Himalayas, Radhika Govindrajan’s book explores the number of ways that human and animal interact to cultivate relationships as interconnected, related beings.  Whether it is through the study of the affect and ethics of ritual animal sacrifice, analysis of the right-wing political project of cow-protection, or examination of villagers’ talk about bears who abduct women and have sex with them, Govindrajan illustrates that multispecies relatedness relies on both difference and ineffable affinity between animals.  Animal Intimacies breaks substantial new ground in animal studies, and Govindrajan’s detailed portrait of the social, political and religious life of the region will be of interest to cultural anthropologists and scholars of South Asia as well.  

1 Introduction
2 The Goat Who Died for Family: Sacrificial Ethics and Kinship
3 The Cow Herself Has Changed: Hindu Nationalism, Cow Protection, and Bovine Materiality
4 Outsider Monkey, Insider Monkey: On the Politics of Exclusion and Belonging
5 Pig Gone Wild: Colonialism, Conservation, and the Otherwild
6 The Bear Who Loved a Woman: The Intersection of Queer Desires
Epilogue: Kukur aur bagh
Review Quotes
“Recommended. . .Animal Intimacies provides a fascinating ethnographic study on the social and emotional entanglements of humans and animals in the Kumaon region of the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. . .Govindrajan’s ethnography reveals that the agency of animal subjects has significantly shaped the social relations, everyday ethical practices, and religious worldviews of the Pahari peoples of Uttarakhand. This text will appeal widely to students interested in human-animal relations and critical applications of posthumanist theories.”
American Ethnologist
Animal Intimacies vividly conveys the intense entanglement of interspecies relations in Kumaon, a Himalayan region in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India. . . . The result is a highly readable and vital contribution to the discipline that illuminates the key theoretical debates in multispecies ethnography.”
Asian Ethnology
“The antagonist hovering over Radhika Govindrajan's Animal Intimacies is not anthropocentrists, but rather those who kill and police humans in the animal's name. This attention to the political landscape, where violence articulates itself as from a place of love, is what makes her book so timely and important. Her close attention to the social, historical, and physical landscape of her fieldsite, Kumaon, which is part of India's state of Uttarakhand in the central Himalayas, and her ability to narrate the liveliness of these landscapes is what makes this book beautiful.”
Contemporary South Asia
“A compelling book. In bringing to light the relatedness of human and non-human lives, Govindrajan illustrates the richness of such interactions. . . . The richness of the book means that it will be of interest to readers in the field of human-animal studies. It should also appeal to readers more generally as an example of how lived experiences reflect wider social, political and historical patterns.”
Naisargi N. Dave, University of Toronto
Animal Intimacies is written in a beautiful style, and the scholarship is exemplary: both rigorous and creative. Govindrajan's exceptional ethnography demonstrates the range of relationships people in the central Himalayas of India have with animals—relationships that can be described, ultimately, as ones of everyday, entangled intimacy. By showing us the textures of these intimacies, Govindrajan demonstrates that animals are not mere objects in the lives and reflections of humans, but are thinking, feeling subjects themselves, playing equal parts in human-animal cohabitation.”
Piers Locke, University of Canterbury
“Written in a lively style combining reflexive reportage with anthropological analysis, Animal Intimacies vividly portrays the everyday life and social concerns of villagers in the hill state of Uttarakhand through their interactions with household domesticates and encounters with forest animals. Its chapter-by-chapter engagement with a succession of distinct interspecies relations makes for a memorable and innovative ethnography. Govindrajan's richly detailed account of human lives led with animals succeeds in addressing many contemporary issues confronting people in India’s hill-states, while also making a valuable contribution to the anthropology of human-animal relations.”

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