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Embodying anthropomorphism: contextualizing commonality in the material landscape

By D. Lulka

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The status of anthropomorphism has changed in recent decades, allowing for in-depth consideration of its meaning and salience. Advocates of anthropomorphism have put forth a series of scientific and theoretical arguments to establish the concept's legitimacy. Nonetheless, while many advocates of anthropomorphism criticize the scientific worldview that objectifies nonhumans, their arguments still retain a cognitive perspective that implicitly reaffirms human-nonhuman hierarchies. This paper challenges these notions by accentuating the role of material factors in the formation and dissemination of anthropomorphic thought. These materials include human and nonhuman bodies, as well as the physicality of the external environment. This paper also examines the different ways in which social factors blend with these material factors to bring about anthropomorphic thinking. To clarify these issues, this paper examines an ongoing human conflict with harbor seals in La Jolla, California to illustrate these points. It concludes by suggesting that materialist articulations of anthropomorphism may foster an ethical perspective with environmental significance.

Date 2008
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 21
Issue 2
Pages 181-196
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
Language English
Author Address Liberal Studies Department, Craven Hall 6202, California State University, San Marcos, 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Road, San Marcos, CA 92096,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Anthropomorphism
  5. Aquacultural and fisheries
  6. Aquatic organisms
  7. California
  8. Developed countries
  9. Human behavior
  10. Mammals
  11. North America
  12. OECD countries
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. Pets and companion animals
  15. Primates
  16. Seals
  17. Social behavior
  18. United States of America
  1. peer-reviewed