Room and Board : Towards An Articulation of Domesticated Animals As Pioneer Survivors In Affluent Societies

Is there a better (living) example to illustrate 21st century survival in abundant societies than the life of spoiled domestic animals? Some of our companion species are now lodging in five stars pensions, attending « Doga » (Dog Yoga) classes and feasting on organic gourmet food… Considering centuries of domestication, if animals’ lives are changing, so might ours. These potential evolutionary breaks, both biological and cultural, have a long and interesting history – fueled by natural and unnatural histories. Because the way we are trading animals tells a lot about the way we are treating each other, I coined the concept of Beastness to help describe our contemporary modalities of dealing with otherness, including ourselves. Beastness is the name I gave to this particular evolution of this relationship’s economy, bonding humans and animals since the dawn of time to the present day. It is a play on words referring primarily to animal trade (business). It is also the contraction of “fitness” (in a biological sense) and “beast” (in a mythological sense). Trading is not just about money but also about desire, projection, affects and meanings. It speaks for the self and the civilisation. Here, Nature and Culture together articulate thoughts and actions. To readress the question of survival fitness beyond the frame of purely adaptive lives, I suggest we examine some specific humanized animals’ biographies. By selecting some companion species’ nonfictional case studies, I hope to provide a better understanding of mutations brought on by abundant humanimal societies.

American Anthropological Association
Thursday, November 17, 2011: 09:00
Montreal Convention Center 513D


“It is customary in Japan to send New Year’s greeting cards with an animal sign of the zodiac for the upcoming year printed on them. The Japanese zodiac has the names of 12 animals. The zodiac originated in China. Since making its way to Japan, it has been used widely as the measure for times, directions, and years.”

Kentaro Nagai Project