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Binaries, boundaries and bullfighting: multiple and alternative human-animal relations in the Spanish mounted bullfight

By K. Thompson

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Abstract

Research into human-animal relations in Spain has favored the footed bullfight as a case study for broader generalization. Conducted before the formalization of human-animal studies and in an academic milieu characterized by structuralist or binary approaches, such research has largely interpreted the footed bullfight as a cultural expression of the human-animal binary. In contrast, this paper considers post-binary ways of being human, animal and human-animal in Spain, using the mounted bullfight as an illustration. This approach is premised by considering the bullfight "longitudinally" as an ongoing and repeated performance and "laterally" as that which necessitates participation in a number of intersecting and related human-animal interactions. Alternative interpretations of three potential "binary thresholds" are offered, including the dismounting of the rider; the death of the bull and the survival of the bullfighter and the horse; and the bullfighter being carried out of the bullring on the shoulders of humans. These post-binary interpretations contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of human-animal relations in the bullfight, Spain, and beyond. This paper emphasizes the limitations of any interpretation being able to adequately encompass the dynamic complexity of human-animal relations broadly.

Date 2010
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 23
Issue 4
Pages 317-336
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175303710X12750451259291
Language English
Author Address School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy, University of South Australia, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia.kirrilly.thompson@unisa.edu.au
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Tags
  1. Animal fighting
  2. Anthrozoology
  3. Bulls
  4. Case Report
  5. Developed countries
  6. Europe
  7. Horses
  8. Interactions
  9. Mammals
  10. Mediterranean region
  11. OECD countries
  12. peer-reviewed
  13. Primates
  14. Social psychology and social anthropology
  15. Spain
  16. survival
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  1. peer-reviewed