First Encounters: Domestication as Steps of Becoming

  • Kristin Armstrong OmaEmail author
Part of the Cultural Animal Studies book series (CAS, volume 4)


The anthropocene is a term that is rapidly gaining momentum. It presupposes that humans stepped up and took a leading role in driving processes of change in a hereto unprecedented scale. Domestication, both of plants, animals and environments, is bottom line vital to this development. Domestication from this perspective is a process that presupposes modification and manipulation of the behavioural dispositions, morphology and life world of other beings. Archaeology has played a role in trying to explain these processes by way of environmental archaeology. This strand of archaeology has epistemolgically been informed by a fundamentally cartesian, i.e. humanist/enlightenment paradigm, that has presupposed that humans have conquered animals, plants and landscapes and subjected these to the human will, as though these are passive, even inanimate, matter. The agency of plants and animals has rarely been considered. This perspective has led other disciplines to mistrust the ability of archaeology to respond to questions of domestication – and fundamentally – questions of which factors pushed the development of the anthropocene. This paper specifically deals with domestication of animals from the perspective of archaeology and seeks to counter the critique. Three case studies are discussed, and together they demonstrate the complexity of domestication as steps of becoming. First, recent research on domestication of sheep and its implications is. Second, a possible first meeting between domestic animals and a hunter-gatherer culture is discussed. Third, changes in architecture in a husbandry culture is interpreted as signifying changes in production which led to a greater intensification and a heightened human-animal bond. All case studies are considered from a perspective of reciprocity, commitment and co-authored life-ways as specific setups within an ethics of a duty of care.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Deutschland, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BryneNorway

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