DiscoverThis Anthro LifeThe surprising truths wild horses teach us about the power of ritual, social durability, and surviving the Anthropocene with John Hartigan Jr.
The surprising truths wild horses teach us about the power of ritual, social durability, and surviving the Anthropocene with John Hartigan Jr.

The surprising truths wild horses teach us about the power of ritual, social durability, and surviving the Anthropocene with John Hartigan Jr.

Update: 2021-05-05
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In today’s episode Adam Gamwell and Astrid Countee are joined by multispecies anthropologist John Hartigan jr. John is an anthropology professor at the University of Texas at Austin. In his latest work, Shaving the Beasts: Wild Horses and Ritual in Spain, John studies the social lives of wild horses in Spain and Catalonia and the Spanish ritual dating back to the 1500s of “Rapa das Bestas”- in which villagers heard wild horses together into public ceremonial rings and shave their manes and tails. Why is an anthropologist studying horses you ask? John’s work dives into the complex social lives of these horses, what happens with human ritual causes violence and social breakdown - in this case amongst horses - and asks the question of how we can learn about human culture from other species?


In this episode we focus on:



  • What studying nonhuman species like plants and horses tells us about being human


  • How to do rapid ethnographic fieldwork


  • How the sociality of humans shapes and is shaped by other species


  • Why ecology needs anthropology and vice versa



Where to Find John Hartigan:


John Hartigan Jr. is an anthropology professor at the University of Texas at Austin who focuses on multispecies ethnography, media, and race. He has done fieldwork in Spain, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Detroit, Michigan. Hartigan’s latest book is Shaving The Beast: Wild Horses and Ritual in Spain, in which he explores the ritual of rapa das bestas in Galicia, Spain where villagers heard wild horses together to shave their manes and tails. Through multispecies ethnography, Hartigan tells the story of this ritual through the horses’ eyes, experiencing the traumatic event as he tells the story of the horses and their society. Hartigan has also authored Care of the Species: Cultivating Biodiversity in Mexico and Spain (2017), Racial Situations: Class Predicaments of Whiteness in Detroit (1999), Odd Tribes: Toward a Cultural Analysis of White People (2005), What Can You Say? America’s National Conversation on Race (2010), and Aesop’s Anthropology: A Multispecies Approach.


Twitter: https://twitter.com/aesopsanthro




Music: Epidemic Sounds


Tilden Parc - The Weekend (Instrumental Version)


Nebulas [ocean jams]


Episode Art: Sara Schmieder


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The surprising truths wild horses teach us about the power of ritual, social durability, and surviving the Anthropocene with John Hartigan Jr.

The surprising truths wild horses teach us about the power of ritual, social durability, and surviving the Anthropocene with John Hartigan Jr.

Adam Gamwell