CFP: Relationships with Humans and Animals in the Middle East and North Africa Region

Middle East Studies Association Call for PapersScreen Shot 2018-01-15 at 11.26.23 AM

     Humans and other animals share spaces, impact each other daily through work and leisure, and create communities together. Levi Strauss is famous for saying animals are “good to think with.” As anthropology is beginning to make the post-humanist or animal turn, it is time to think about how animals affect and create each other and humans in various symbolic and material ways, constantly crossing and redrawing communal, ethical, and practical boundaries. Tim Mitchell writes about “making the mosquito speak”, and how these small malaria-carrying animals had an impact on the outcome between the British and German forces during the Second World War in Egypt. Scholars have gradually asked questions about the human-animals in the West or Global North, but what about the Global South, specifically the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)?

     Animals of any size are on the fringes of the human world, but play important and interesting roles in the various cultures of the MENA. Horses and falcons enjoy valorization and continued elevated status of “noble” creatures, are bought and sold for thousands of dollars, thus leading to their own industry in terms of racing, breeding, hunting, and other elite leisure pursuits. Donkeys and mules in Fes, Morocco continue to be of vital importance carrying items up and down the winding streets of the old city, which are two narrow and steep for cars and most motorcycles. Native snakes are continually needed for the snake charming tourist acts in Marrakesh. The Arabian oryx was hunted to extinction in the wild, reintroduced, and is the national animal of Jordan, Oman, UAE, Bahrain and Qatar. Whale and dolphin watching tours are a popular activity in Oman. ISIS fighters used the Mosul Zoo as a staging area in October 2016.  The zoo saw severe losses and the final two animals were evacuated in April 2017. Animals are constantly in the crosshairs of society, conflict, cultural meanings, sports, and leisure pursuits. This panel invites papers addressing the status of animals in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) through history, anthrozoology, anthropology, political science, geography, and other relevant disciplines.

     The animals in this region pervade almost every aspect of culture and history. This panel asks: what is the human-animal relationship in the MENA region, how are animals used and viewed, how are animals (livestock, pets, sporting animals, wildlife) treated and what are the attitudes toward them. This panel will examine this interchange of animals in cultures past and present. Papers focusing on single countries, regions or comparative studies examining multiple locales or countries are welcome, as are papers from any single or combined disciplinary perspectives. 

     Authors are asked to submit a paper title, abstract (300-400 words), their professional or institutional affiliation, and contact information. Academic, non-academic, or other professional authors are invited to apply. In cases of co-authored works, only one submission (including the same information for each author) should be made. Papers will be accepted in English only. The deadline for abstract submissions is midnight 31 January 2018. You will be informed of the result by 2 February 2018.

     If the proposal is accepted, you will be required to register with MESA by 15 February 2018, although acceptance of the panel by MESA is not assured. Please consult the MESA website for further information about conference and registration procedures.

     We look forward to receiving your proposal, which you should send to guj.talley@gmail.com Please include MESA in the email title.

     We intend to publish the papers in a collective book, so strong preference will be given to authors/speakers who will subsequently be prepared to submit their papers by 15 January 2019.

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Histories of Equine Science

     The SHOT History of Technology conference begins tomorrow in Philadelphia. Of particular interest are the Maintaining Natures panels organized by Nicole Welk-Joerger University of Pennsylvania and Alice Clifton (Georgia Institute of Technology). The second session includes two of our member presenting their research, and both panels take a long overdue look at the intersection of animals and technology.

Maintaining Natures I
8:00 a.m. Friday in the Reynolds Room.
Chair: David Nye (University of Southern Denmark)
Commentator: Thomas Zeller (University of Maryland)
Angelica Agredo Montealegre (King’s College London): Urgent Roads for the ‘Unknown’: The Roads of the Algerian Sahara in the 1950s
Alice Clifton (Georgia Institute of Technology) [Robinson Prize Candidate]: Front-Line Fowl: Messenger Pigeons as Communications Technology in the United States Army Slawomir Lotysz (Polish Academy of Sciences): Hydro or Social Engineering? The Question of Draining the Polesie Marshes in Interwar Poland
Nicole Welk-Joerger (University of Pennsylvania): Measuring Maintenance: Cow Condition and Calorimeters in America’s Early 20th Century

Maintaining Natures II
10:30 a.m. Saturday in the Claypoole Room
Chair: Lee Vinsel (Virginia Tech)
Commentator: Ann Greene (University of Pennsylvania) 
Katrin Boniface (University of California Riverside) [Robinson Prize Candidate]: Manufacturing the Horse: Understandings of Inheritance in the Long 18th Century
Felicity McWilliams (King’s College London): Maintaining Tractors and Caring for Horses: Looking after Draught Power Technologies in Twentieth Century British Farming
Sarah Mittlefehldt (Northern Michigan University): Saving the Earth through the Power of the Sun: Solar Energy Advocacy and Opposition in the US since the 1950s
Samantha Muka (University of Pennsylvania): Maintaining Model Ecosystems in the Laboratory: Adey’s Caribbean Reef Microcosm Tank

If you won’t be in attendance, follow #SHOT2017 and #HorseHistory on twitter.