1 For another framing of this question see Cristóbal Bonelli (2015), who asks what happens to academic writing ‘when we are invited by our interactants to realise that what is serious for one situated set of practices’ might not be quite as serious in and for another?

2 With the term Umwelt the early twentieth-century Estonian biologist Jakob von Uexküll refers to a being’s perceptual life-world; the concrete or lived milieu of the organism, whose potentialities are directly related to its perceptive apparatus – without reducing those potentialities to perception alone.

3 Cesar Millan’s books and tv presentations are a case in point, but so are the much milder handbooks written by the monks of New Skete. See for instance Millan (2006); Monks of New Skete (2011: 19).

4 Aside from Donna Haraway’s essential work on dogs in STS (2003, 2008) and Vinciane Despret’s studies of animal scientists (for instance 2016), an emerging body of work in animal studies itself explicitly or implicitly deploys the methods of (sensory) ethnography (Pink 2009), ‘following the animal’ so as to offer a non-human-centred perspective on the animal’s world (see Horowitz 2011, 2017; Grandin 2009; Mayeri 2007, 2012) offers cinema for primates in which the human is an instrument for facilitating apes’ subjectivities.

5 For the making of subjectivity through photography see Barthes 1981.

6 Gertrude Stein, unrecognised ethnographer of her times, suggests that, like time, place is elusive – an artefact of one’s framing. And another unrecognised ethnographer, Chauncey Gardener, subject in Jerzy Kosinsky’s Being There, immortalised by Peter Sellers, suggests that being is all there is.

7 To Uexküll, too, animals are the subjects of their life-world: ‘Each environment forms a self-enclosed unit, which is governed in all its parts by its meaning for the subject’ (1934/2010:144); such worlds are many and varied. For an ant, a cow, and a little girl picking flowers, a square metre of meadow will hold very different meaning but, more important, open up a range of different opportunities for action. Uexküll’s, then, is a commitment to multiple ontologies, as for each of these beings this piece of the world is a different thing; the biologist’s ‘thick description’ of an animal’s life-world aims to bring into relief its scope, infer its meanings, describe its potentialities and realise its constraints.

8 For an analysis of the operations and the work invested in producing an MRI scan, see Dumit 2004.

9 I should also note that this is a dangerous proposition: in certain circumstances it is unsafe for the dogs if I do not take the lead and so I must exert agency in deciding when to insist and when to let go.

10 For words as actions see Austin 1963.

11 For a critique of reflexive dualist schemes, see for instance Latour 1993.


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