Lupine Sensibilities: Dynamically Embodied Intersubjectivity between Humans and Refugee Wolves

Austin D. Hoffman

There is a growing body of literature in the field of environmental education that draws from the phenomenological tradition in theorizing about human-animal interactions. I am inspired by the eco-phenomenology of Phillip G. Payne and aim here to further an educational pedagogy of intercorporeal relations and to conceptualize M:W as “an active experiential and existential site of and for inquiry in and with various natures and environments.” From the animal welfarist perspective, some work has also been done about how these interactions occur in the contexts of zoos and wildlife sanctuaries, and how they can be mutually enriching for non/humans; Lindsey Mehrkam, Nicolle Verdi, and Clive Wynne have specifically studied captive wolves and wolf-dogs in this regard. Holding all these schools of thought in mind, this essay lies at the four-way intersection of human-animal studies (HAS), anthropological methodology, environmental education, and phenomenology. More specifically, I endeavor to bring the anthropological framework of dynamic embodiment—which draws heavily from phenomenology but has been largely humancentric—firmly into conversation with these other intellectual genealogies.

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Austin D. Hoffman is a PhD student in sociocultural anthropology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In the past, his research has focused on political subjectivity, social movements, and the semiotics of protest. His work currently centers on the political ecology between humans, the state, wolves and wolf-dog crosses (commonly known as “hybrids”) in the contexts of the exotic pet-trade, wildlife sanctuaries, and wildlife management agencies. Austin takes an intersectional approach to his research and strives to unpack how domestic and wild canines and other non-humans are anthropomorphically racialized, sexualized and politicized, and how such processes can ratify, deny, and problematize claims of subjectivity.

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