Equine history — the study of horses, donkeys, mules and the genus known as “equus” — stretches from prehistoric archaeology to contemporary issues of elite leisure and conservation policies. Knowledge on these topics has moved increasingly from the realm of popular specialists to academic research of many different stripes. With the turn to cultural history and now animal studies, a growing number of scholars are interested in the multi-faceted role of the horse in human societies and cultures. Such a re-discovery of the importance of the horse coincides with our own contemporary general lack of interaction with equines or many other animals in daily life, leading to the need for interpreters who can translate the technicalities of equine knowledge into the larger concerns of historical research.
At IMC Leeds 2016, many equine historians found themselves on panels together for the first time. The idea emerged that a network for connecting scholars in vastly different areas of historical study with the common thread of an interest in equine history. Rather than a narrowly focused and specialist topic, the equine figure in history is fascinating precisely because it cuts across wide swathes of society, in diverse cultures and regions. The Equine History Collective, founded in 2016, has grown to a membership of almost a hundred scholars from sixteen countries. The inaugural Equine History Conference ran in 2018.
The Equine History Collective (EquineHistory.org) promotes the horse as a lens for trans-regional history, and serves as an interface for related historical research in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. We have three aims. First, to make specialist and sometimes technical knowledge relevant and available to a broader audience of academic scholars in the discipline of history. Second, to provide a forum for connecting related research interests in equine studies across regional and chronological divisions within the discipline of history, mirroring the trends of transnational, connected world histories. Third, to provide a point of contact for inter-disciplinary collaboration with scholars in equine studies in the social sciences and sciences to provide a historically rigorous foundation or counterpoint to contemporary studies in fields ranging from genetics to sport culture and tourism.
The Equine History Collective contributes to its scholarly member community and the broader public through three distinct avenues. First, by providing reviews that introduce new scholarship to a broader audience, or distills research in one topic. These reviews have the intent of both evaluating the technical aspects of equine research in historical works, and making this specialist knowledge relevant and accessible to interested scholars. Second, by maintaining a platform for announcing member activities such as publications, calls for proposals, or reports on conference activities of interest to the collective as a whole. Third, by creating a network of like-minded scholars and a forum for interaction across field and discipline boundaries in workshops and conferences.
We are a collective and encourage participation and invite submissions from members or non-members on topics of interest to this community. Please see here for submitting a review, check the blog for announcements, and stay tuned for conference planning information. Contact us with general inquiries, calls for papers or other material of interest, or to be added to the group. We can be reached through our contact page, at EquineHistory@gmail.com, or on twitter @Equine_History.
Katrin Boniface, University of California, Riverside
Kathryn Renton, University of California, Los Angeles
Janice Gunther Martin, University of Notre Dame
Katie Richardson, W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library