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Social Anthropology

"I fell in love with Carlos the Meerkat": engagement and detachment in human-animal relations


Relationship, connection, and engagement have emerged as key values in recent studies of human–animal relations. In this article, I call for a reexamination of the productive aspects of detachment. I trace ethnographically the management of everyday relations between biologists and the Kalahari meerkats they study, and I follow the animals' transformation as subjects of knowledge and engagement when they become the stars of an internationally popular, televised animal soap opera. I argue that treating detachment and engagement as polar opposites is unhelpful both in this ethnographic case and, more broadly, in anthropological discussions of ethics and knowledge making. Read the final published version here.

Download the pre-print here.