Human-Animal Interactions Recap

By Kathryn Renton

     Oct. 26-27, Salt Lake City. The University of Utah Department of History hosted a Tanner Lecture and O. Meredith Wilson Symposium on Human-Animal Interactions, where Marcy Norton gave a keynote address based on work in her forthcoming book on people and animals in the Atlantic World (under contract with Harvard University Press).  Professor Norton used the case of dogs used by Spanish conquistadors to hunt and kill indigenous people to illustrate “modes of interaction” that influence the subjectivities attributed to individual animals, and which can shift between cultures or also within one culture. In the companion symposium, invited speakers included Iris Montero on the hummingbird in Mesoamerican culture; Bathsheba Demuth on sled-dogs in the Arctic North; and Kathryn Renton on horses in the Americas. 

     The discussion of wild versus domesticated animals should be of interest to the rentonhorsesmembers of the EHC.  It came up in Professor Norton on the circum-Caribbean indigenous concept of iegue in taming individual members of a wild species, versus the control over reproduction in domesticated animals common to European cultures.  My discussion of the cimarrón or feral and stray horses that populated the Americas emphasized the semi-feral management of these same domesticated animals in Iberian husbandry techniques. The status of the “Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros” remains a contentious issue for ecologists and conservationists in the federal lands managed by National Parks and the Bureau of Land Management in the western U.S. I drove out to Baker, NV to spend two days observing the herd of horses in the Sulphur Springs Herd Management Area with Kathleen Hayden. The status of these animals as wildlife or domestic strays proves to be an important debate for how their populations should be managed.  

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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.

CFP: Equine Culture at WOCMES

The Intersection of Equine Culture and History
in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa

Organizers: Gwyneth Talley (UCLA Anthropology) and Kathryn Renton (UCLA History)

The proposed panel invites papers addressing the intersecting points of horses and horse culture the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with their European counterparts, through history and anthropology. Horses were invaluable in warfare, hunting, and diplomacy. Their breeding, training, and trappings generated legends about horse culture in the Mediterranean still influential to this day. While horses are no longer used in the same ways today as they were from the Middle Ages through the Early Modern period, people all over the MENA and Iberian regions continue to use and

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                                                         Festival Fantasia    

celebrate their horse cultures. Spain maintains a mounted police horse division, celebrates the horse through festivals in Jerez de la Frontera and Seville, and continues to use horses in mounted bullfighting. In Morocco, the Salon du Cheval is beginning to garner world renown as an exhibit of traditional Moroccan horsemanship (tbourida or fantasia). Horse racing, while slightly diminished due to political turmoil, continues in every country from Morocco to Lebanon. Princess Haya of Jordan, the former president of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), strongly encouraged the expansion of the FEI, and brought in $150mil of commercial revenue to the federation, which oversees international horse events. Aside from the Arab contribution to equestrian sports, the five-year EU ban on exportation of horses from Egypt has greatly diminished the opportunities for horse breeders in the country, stifling the horse economy. In Jerusalem, horse shows have become a non-political way of sharing a love of horses in the conflict-riddled region.

The horse in this region pervades almost every aspect of culture and history, but this panel asks: how did the contact between Arab and European cultures affect each other in terms of horse breeds, riding styles, equipment, and general knowledge. This panel will examine this interchange of equestrian 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 (no more than 300 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 5 November 2017. You will be informed of the result by 10 November 2017.

If the proposal is accepted, you will be required to register with WOCMES by 15 November, 2017, although acceptance of the panel by WOCMES is not assured. Please consult the WOCMES website http://wocmes2018seville.org/web/index.php/en/ for further information about conference and registration procedures.

We look forward to receiving your proposal, which you should send to BOTH guj.talley@gmail.com and kathrynrenton@ucla.edu . Please include WOCMES in the email title.

The organizers 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 30 September 2018.

Early Modern Collections In Use

This past weekend the Huntington hosted the Early Modern Collections in Use conference. The Huntington conferences are always delightful and productive and this was no exception. First, I suggest checking out the Huntington blog and the hashtag.Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 5.27.34 PM

Most of the papers, unsurprisingly but still wonderfully, made explicit reference to items housed at the Huntington. Given the subject, non-textual sources were well represented. And, as often happens with these narrower well curated topics, each speaker was able to draw comparisons and connections with prior papers. So, not only was there an assortment of great papers, but throughout the two days there was active discussion. In effect, this became about the production of knowledge– much as many presenters mentioned as a goal of early modern visits to collections.

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I was, of course, particularly interested in Dániel Margócsy’s “Stables as Collections for Breeding: The Production of Knowledge and the Reproduction of Horses.” My primary research topic currently is on understanding of inheritance in horses and livestock in the 18th and early 19th centuries, so this was a can’t miss. I was not the only equine historian in attendance– something that is becoming delightfully less uncommon– and even had a chance to compare research notes and chat about the state of our field with Kathryn Renton over coffee. As Mary Terrall mentioned after, horse history papersScreen Shot 2017-09-17 at 6.05.29 PM are still rare enough that we come from miles around at the hint of one. Margócsy also mentioned the strange omission of horses from current research.

Margócsy’s presentation focused in particular on the relationship between collections of art and collections of horses, which often occupied the same space. He also suggests that the “ephemerality” of horses changed the ways in with they were viewed and used as collections. Because horses were collected as living, rather than preserved, specimens, preservation needs were met though breeding and through art. I look forward to reading more of his work on the subject.

And, worth mentioning, the top tweet of the conference was these good dogs:

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