Elan Abrell's talk "The Ethical and Methodological Challenges of Animal-Centered Ethnography"

Tuesday, April 30, 2024 at 11:00am to 12:15pm

Building E53, 354
30 WADSWORTH ST, Cambridge, MA 02142

As a relatively new and evolving field within anthropology, multispecies ethnography challenges traditional human-centric perspectives by engaging with the complex web of relationships between humans and non-human entities, including plants, fungi, and animals. But centering animals, in particular, as subjects of study raises unique ethical and methodological challenges with which ethnographic researchers must contend. Animal-centered ethnography challenges researchers to adopt creative approaches that accommodate the agency and perspectives of non-human beings while grappling with the boundaries of interspecies communication and understanding. At the same time, questions emerge regarding the ethical implications of anthropocentric biases, the commodification of animal life, and the responsibilities of researchers towards their human and animal interlocutors. Drawing on research conducted with ethnographers themselves, this talk explores both the challenges of animal-centered ethnography and researchers’ innovative responses to those challenges.
Elan Abrell is the author of Saving Animals: Multispecies Ecologies of Rescue and Care (2021) – an ethnography of animal sanctuaries throughout the U.S. – received the 2022 Gregory Bateson Book Prize from the Society for Cultural Anthropology. He is an assistant professor of the practice in Environmental Studies, Animal Studies, and Science and Technology Studies at Wesleyan University. 
Event Type


Events By Interest

Academic, Health/Wellness, General, Climate & Sustainability

Events By Audience

MIT Community, Students, Faculty

Events By School

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS)



Contact Email


Add to my calendar

Recent Activity