Théophile Robert

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Aberdeen, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10027

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Robert, Theophile (Aberdeen, U. of) "Making a place sing: bird-walking and bird-human relations in China"

Bird taming in China is a very popular activity amongst middle-aged and the elderly men. People rear birds such as songbirds, pigeons, parrots and mynahs, all birds of sounds. With a specific focus on practices of making the places sing, by walking a songbird, I hope to study how interacting with the bird allows for spaces of multispecies communication. I study how people in China teach their birds to sing a certain way, and what that means in terms of multispecies anthropology. I ask how these communications should be considered, eventually arguing a multifold methodology to understand the practice is the best choice. To understand how the material engagements of two distinct species allow communication to happen, I propose that we inform ethnographic work with three different methodologies: soundwalking, multimodal analysis and ornithological analysis. Such approach, in my opinion, will allow us to better understand multispecies relations, especially the role that language plays when entangling with non-humans. It will also allow us to study Chinese sociality through the question of atmosphere and the role non-humans play in their emergence.