How Humans and Animals are Interconnected
Nishant Srinivasaiah
ANIMAL INTIMACIES: BEASTLY LOVE IN THE HIMALAYAS by Radhika Govindrajan Penguin/Viking, 2019, 240 pp., 599.00
May 2020, volume 44, No 5

Splendid is not the word. Finally, an exemplary work of research that consciously blurs the boundary between the human and the non-human. In Animal Intimacies: Beastly Love in the Himalayas, Radhika Govindrajan attempts and successfully manages to show the reader that human and animal lives are intertwined, entangled in interactions that are often complex and messy, and that it is the messiness in interactions that helps define their relatedness. With a choice of human-animal relations that help highlight the varied socio-political issues that sometimes plague and at times bring solace to our society, the way we decide to experience it, the author convinces the reader that animals are agents that influence our lives, as much as we influence theirs.

The treatment of the association between people and animals at the individual level rather than at the level of the species or population, avoiding broad brushing by extrapolating the lived experiences of the animals and humans she has worked with to others in the village, is a wonderful approach, something that the natural sciences may consider adopting. Although such treatment is often associated with anthropological research, it is no longer limited to that field. Increasingly we see behavioural ecologists studying primates and more recently elephants highlighting individual idiosyncrasies in animals, specifically the ones who have been studying animals that are influenced by human action or that are living in human-dominated landscapes.

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