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Andrew Mitchell joined the Department of Social Anthropology in September 2012. His doctoral research shall explore the controversial presence of wolves in Sweden. Recently Andrew completed an MSc in Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology at University College London (2012), his dissertation discussed the significance of human-canid burials during Mesolithic Eurasia, exploring the possible relation such interments may have had within animistic, domestication and hunting practices. Andrew also completed a Master’s here at the Department of Social Anthropology in 2011, based upon fieldwork conducted in molecular biology lab where fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) were the ‘model’ species of choice. Andrew’s current research interests focus upon anthropological perspectives on science and technology, as well as human-animal relations and domestication.
Becoming-wolf (working title)
As the debate that surrounds the hunting of wolves in Sweden becomes increasingly polemic, questions of how such perceptions are engendered and maintained come to the fore. Hence, this project shall consider how the incorporation of ‘scientific', 'environmental' and 'ecological' discourses are utilised in order to legitimise actions and perceptions amongst both conservationists and hunters. The project shall also consider how dogs have come to play a crucial role in the wolf hunting controversy, and is one reason why peoples’ response to the presence of wolves is both ‘heated’ and ‘emotional’, as in some instances hunting dogs have been killed by wolves. Ironically, however, according to the traditional definition of the species concept, dogs and wolves are essentially the same species. With such thoughts in mind, what is a wolf (and in particular what is the ‘Swedish wolf’), where do the boundaries between wolves and dogs lie, and how are they constructed and maintained? Domestication is often cited as the ‘process’ that separates dogs from wolves, however, what does this phenomenon mean in practice with regard to dog-wolf, as well as human-dog and human-wolf interactions? In order to address these issues, Andrew shall conduct multi-sited fieldwork among farmers, hunters, and conservationists, as well as by analysing perceptions of nature/culture within Swedish mythology, history and literary traditions.
August 30, 2016
Page editor: Lina Lorentz
Source: Department of Social Anthropology