Yancen Diki Maria Diemberger

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Exeter U.

Grant number

Gr. 10294

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Diemberger, Yancen (Exeter U.) "To speak 'horse' in the Himalayas and Argentina: to what extent does communication between humans and horses depend on a ‘language’, and how does this manifest in different cultural contexts?"

How do horses and humans communicate? Humans look to science, transmitted knowledge, and/or embodied experience to answer. Horses are usually not given a chance to respond.

In Traslasierra, Argentina, and Limi, Nepal, horses are still key to human livelihoods, meaning that this trans-species relationship is part of day-to-day life. This project explores how horse-human communication is established in these contexts, examining it against the wider cultural background and exploring socio-ethical tensions brought out during this trans-species negotiation.

The examination of two contexts where human rely on horses generate a ‘lateral’ comparison. The implied avoidance of ‘us’ vs ‘them’ is extended using Spanish, Tibetan, English and ‘horse’ to de-center the English language and de-privilege verbal communication. A significant geographical distance between the sites allows critical engagement with positivist ethological claims, putting them in dialogue with local bodies of knowledge and different onto-epistemical assumptions. This project builds on the ‘animal turn’ in Anthropology and contributes to multi-species ethnographies. It merges social and natural sciences in an Anthrozoological exploration of human understandings of the horse and the horse’s possible point of view. The practical outcomes will help preserve valuable and vulnerable cultural heritage and highlight the interconnectedness of human-horse welfare.