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5 May 2021 - 5 May 2021

3:00PM - 4:30PM

Zoom - all welcome. Please register to attend.

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What Makes Us Human? Like many anthropologists, this is the question that provokes my anthropological imagination. Assumed capacities of the mind; language, intentionality, theory of mind and empathy have to date informed normative definitions of what makes humans exceptionally human.

From my monograph manuscript Rhythms That Matter: A Therapeutic Ecology of Autism and Equine Therapy, based on research in the UK and USA, I show that a shift towards an intimately embodied and ecologically emplaced human is required to account for diversity in ways of being in the world and to account for non-normative modes of relationality. I detail a ‘therapeutic ecology’ of autistic sociality centred on idiosyncratic sensory perception which entangles scales of bodily materialities with affective and architectural environments. I show that assumed knowledges regarding the efficacy of animal assisted interventions for autistic people communicate very contemporary understandings of autism, social relations, and the human more broadly, as intimately emplaced in an ecology of architectural, sensorial and hormonal scales. A general overview of this research, situated within the anthropology of autism, embodied sociality, and human-animal studies, will be given before focusing on the perceived role hormones play as substances of relationality in articulating human beings’ intimacy and sympathetic engagement with our inhabited worlds.