Decolonizing Human-Animal Relations in an African Context: The Story of the Mourning Elephants

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Decolonizing Human-Animal Relations in an African Context
The Story of the Mourning Elephants

In 2012, elephants from two separate herds walked about twelve hours to hold what seemed to be a vigil for their deceased rescuer, South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony. Their story was met with reactions varying from intrigue to disbelief, as standing ideas on non-human animals forbid us to think they might outdo humans in their capacity to sense the death of a close one, even across species-boundaries.
In my chapter this story will be the starting point to critically adress Western dominated philosophical views of human-animal relations, and explore it for its potential for a new philosophical environmentalism starting from an African context. The story holds several important elements that will be analyzed consecutively and will provide arguments for decolonized human-animal relations.
First: the elephants’ behavior has to be understood in the historical context of troubled human-elephant encounters, as well as land dispossession in (neo-)colonial contexts.
Second: their ‘family relationship’ to the person who granted them asylum in his private nature reserve asks us to transcend the ‘colonial’ othering of non-human animals.
Third: the elephants’ potential to sense the dying of a ‘relative’ invites us to acknowledge distant ‘feeling’ perception, which is acknowledged in traditional, ‘shamanistic’ epistemologies.
All three elements lead to understanding and accepting human perception and agency to be continuous with that of non-human animals rather than radically different. This chapter will make use of multi- and inter-disciplinary decolonizing approaches (Bamana, Kohn, Murombedzi, Plumwood).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfrican Environmental Ethics
Subtitle of host publicationA Critical Reader
EditorsMunamato Chemhuru
PublisherSpringer Nature
Chapter17
Pages255
Number of pages268
Volume29
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-18807-8
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-18806-1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameThe International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics
PublisherSpringer Nature
Volume29

Fingerprint

Africa
Human-animal Relations
Nonhuman Animals
Colonies
Environmentalism
Person
Historical Context
Dying
Othering
Family Relationships
Dispossession
Intrigue
Epistemology

Keywords

  • African Philosophy
  • Environmental Philosophy
  • Human-Animal Relations

Cite this

Roothaan, A. (2019). Decolonizing Human-Animal Relations in an African Context: The Story of the Mourning Elephants. In M. Chemhuru (Ed.), African Environmental Ethics: A Critical Reader (Vol. 29, pp. 255). (The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics; Vol. 29). Springer Nature.
Roothaan, Angela. / Decolonizing Human-Animal Relations in an African Context : The Story of the Mourning Elephants. African Environmental Ethics: A Critical Reader. editor / Munamato Chemhuru. Vol. 29 Springer Nature, 2019. pp. 255 (The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics).
@inbook{38af0ecdef35490fb49ecd27beb0e6f4,
title = "Decolonizing Human-Animal Relations in an African Context: The Story of the Mourning Elephants",
abstract = "Decolonizing Human-Animal Relations in an African ContextThe Story of the Mourning ElephantsIn 2012, elephants from two separate herds walked about twelve hours to hold what seemed to be a vigil for their deceased rescuer, South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony. Their story was met with reactions varying from intrigue to disbelief, as standing ideas on non-human animals forbid us to think they might outdo humans in their capacity to sense the death of a close one, even across species-boundaries. In my chapter this story will be the starting point to critically adress Western dominated philosophical views of human-animal relations, and explore it for its potential for a new philosophical environmentalism starting from an African context. The story holds several important elements that will be analyzed consecutively and will provide arguments for decolonized human-animal relations. First: the elephants’ behavior has to be understood in the historical context of troubled human-elephant encounters, as well as land dispossession in (neo-)colonial contexts. Second: their ‘family relationship’ to the person who granted them asylum in his private nature reserve asks us to transcend the ‘colonial’ othering of non-human animals. Third: the elephants’ potential to sense the dying of a ‘relative’ invites us to acknowledge distant ‘feeling’ perception, which is acknowledged in traditional, ‘shamanistic’ epistemologies. All three elements lead to understanding and accepting human perception and agency to be continuous with that of non-human animals rather than radically different. This chapter will make use of multi- and inter-disciplinary decolonizing approaches (Bamana, Kohn, Murombedzi, Plumwood).",
keywords = "African Philosophy, Environmental Philosophy, Human-Animal Relations",
author = "Angela Roothaan",
year = "2019",
language = "English",
isbn = "978-3-030-18806-1",
volume = "29",
series = "The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics",
publisher = "Springer Nature",
pages = "255",
editor = "Munamato Chemhuru",
booktitle = "African Environmental Ethics",
address = "United States",

}

Roothaan, A 2019, Decolonizing Human-Animal Relations in an African Context: The Story of the Mourning Elephants. in M Chemhuru (ed.), African Environmental Ethics: A Critical Reader. vol. 29, The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics, vol. 29, Springer Nature, pp. 255.

Decolonizing Human-Animal Relations in an African Context : The Story of the Mourning Elephants. / Roothaan, Angela.

African Environmental Ethics: A Critical Reader. ed. / Munamato Chemhuru. Vol. 29 Springer Nature, 2019. p. 255 (The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics; Vol. 29).

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

TY - CHAP

T1 - Decolonizing Human-Animal Relations in an African Context

T2 - The Story of the Mourning Elephants

AU - Roothaan, Angela

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - Decolonizing Human-Animal Relations in an African ContextThe Story of the Mourning ElephantsIn 2012, elephants from two separate herds walked about twelve hours to hold what seemed to be a vigil for their deceased rescuer, South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony. Their story was met with reactions varying from intrigue to disbelief, as standing ideas on non-human animals forbid us to think they might outdo humans in their capacity to sense the death of a close one, even across species-boundaries. In my chapter this story will be the starting point to critically adress Western dominated philosophical views of human-animal relations, and explore it for its potential for a new philosophical environmentalism starting from an African context. The story holds several important elements that will be analyzed consecutively and will provide arguments for decolonized human-animal relations. First: the elephants’ behavior has to be understood in the historical context of troubled human-elephant encounters, as well as land dispossession in (neo-)colonial contexts. Second: their ‘family relationship’ to the person who granted them asylum in his private nature reserve asks us to transcend the ‘colonial’ othering of non-human animals. Third: the elephants’ potential to sense the dying of a ‘relative’ invites us to acknowledge distant ‘feeling’ perception, which is acknowledged in traditional, ‘shamanistic’ epistemologies. All three elements lead to understanding and accepting human perception and agency to be continuous with that of non-human animals rather than radically different. This chapter will make use of multi- and inter-disciplinary decolonizing approaches (Bamana, Kohn, Murombedzi, Plumwood).

AB - Decolonizing Human-Animal Relations in an African ContextThe Story of the Mourning ElephantsIn 2012, elephants from two separate herds walked about twelve hours to hold what seemed to be a vigil for their deceased rescuer, South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony. Their story was met with reactions varying from intrigue to disbelief, as standing ideas on non-human animals forbid us to think they might outdo humans in their capacity to sense the death of a close one, even across species-boundaries. In my chapter this story will be the starting point to critically adress Western dominated philosophical views of human-animal relations, and explore it for its potential for a new philosophical environmentalism starting from an African context. The story holds several important elements that will be analyzed consecutively and will provide arguments for decolonized human-animal relations. First: the elephants’ behavior has to be understood in the historical context of troubled human-elephant encounters, as well as land dispossession in (neo-)colonial contexts. Second: their ‘family relationship’ to the person who granted them asylum in his private nature reserve asks us to transcend the ‘colonial’ othering of non-human animals. Third: the elephants’ potential to sense the dying of a ‘relative’ invites us to acknowledge distant ‘feeling’ perception, which is acknowledged in traditional, ‘shamanistic’ epistemologies. All three elements lead to understanding and accepting human perception and agency to be continuous with that of non-human animals rather than radically different. This chapter will make use of multi- and inter-disciplinary decolonizing approaches (Bamana, Kohn, Murombedzi, Plumwood).

KW - African Philosophy

KW - Environmental Philosophy

KW - Human-Animal Relations

M3 - Chapter

SN - 978-3-030-18806-1

VL - 29

T3 - The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics

SP - 255

BT - African Environmental Ethics

A2 - Chemhuru, Munamato

PB - Springer Nature

ER -

Roothaan A. Decolonizing Human-Animal Relations in an African Context: The Story of the Mourning Elephants. In Chemhuru M, editor, African Environmental Ethics: A Critical Reader. Vol. 29. Springer Nature. 2019. p. 255. (The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics).