Thinking with Animals: Horses, Dogs and Khiimor in Eastern Mongolia

Type de publication  Thesis
Auteur(s)  Irvine, R.
Type de mémoire  Master
Année  2012
Université  Cambridge

 Hildegard Diemberger


This essay aims to acquaint the reader with a series of ways of thinking with horses
and dogs in Eastern Mongolia. I draw on Moore’s (2011) concept of ‘ethical
imagination’ to investigate how relations with these animals are ‘imagined’
materially, affectively and semiotically, and to describe human-animal relations in a
context where I found it impossible to draw out a singular cosmological framework
that governs these relations. I paint a messy picture of multiple and partial
‘imaginaries’ meeting, clashing and combining in a post-socialist context of emergent
possibilities and concerns, where animals play vital roles in human life. I focus in
particular on the roles of horses and dogs and how they are thought together through
qualities, such as khiimor’ (fortune, but also perhaps a form of ‘anthropomorphic
energy’) that they sometimes share with humans in the contexts of prestige-laden
activities like horse-racing and fox/wolf hunting. In doing this I seek to take on board
the critiques of the material and relational ‘turns’ in anthropology, but crucially, by
holding onto the term ‘imagination’ I wish to retain a space for the creative potential
of the locally constituted and reflective human subject. 


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