The International Anthrozoology Symposium, the Sixth Edition. Multispecies Communities and Narratives


Becoming increasingly aware that we are not alone, we understand that we share the planet with other forms of life that are intelligent and affectionate, shape strong community ties, form families, and develop cultures and complex models of communication. When we begin to look up from our excessive preoccupation with being human we discover the myriad forms of non-human life, communities, cultures, relationships, or, to put it in one word, the other-than-human worlds. Suppose we reframe our thinking to acknowledge and recognize the other forms of intelligence, emotion, and language that don’t resemble our own. In that case, we are facing the promise of changing the current state of affairs.

If we take the non-human animals’ matter seriously and look away from our current ideologies, we may discover that we are trapped by our systems of thinking and judging. We need to break away from anthropocentric thinking. Our economic, political, and ecological systems limit the ways we can connect with other-than-human animals and the natural world at large. We must seriously question whether and how our all-too-human limitations tie us into what we can imagine and wish for. We live in a complex and interdependent world. When we take other animals seriously, we discover more than their extraordinary lives and communities, we see their potential to demolish the barriers to our thinking and change our world. Multispecies communities recognize the multitude of life forms and try to accommodate them. When we create spaces for other beings in our human world, we explore our capacity to relate to others; and this newfound connectedness, openness, and vulnerability brings the promise of unforeseen possibilities. Until now, we have nourished the desire to control the larger-than-human world, yet we gradually realize that such control is just an illusion. All the other non-humans around us are as much a part of this web of life as we are. To find peace, balance, and prosperity we need to rediscover this sense of connectedness that requires us to make space for all the others beside us.