Animals are central to the livelihood strategies of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. Across the continent, animals provide sources of food and income, despite the growth of more diverse modes of subsistence. However, entanglements between humans and animals often have deeply problematic consequences for health, well-being and the environment. For example, unsustainable hunting practices reduce biodiversity and risk zoonotic disease transmission, and the uncontrolled use of antibiotics in intensified farming threatens to exacerbate anti-microbial resistance. Meanwhile, against a backdrop of climate-change induced pressures, development projects try to change human-animal relations in order to enhance productivity and economic resilience. Within this emerging dynamic it is important to reappraise the role of animals for contemporary livelihoods; the implications of human-animal relations for the wellbeing of multi-species communities; and the mechanisms of governance that seek to manage human-animal relations. This will be achieved through detailed ethnographic case studies in Kenya and Sierra Leone. This approach will shed light on contemporary livelihood strategies in sub-Saharan Africa. It will enable a major innovation in the social sciences by pushing forward new, post-human, visions for the fields of development and global health. Moreover, these local studies will be situated in a global context through a study of global assemblages of animal-focused development and One Health approaches. A deeper understanding of human-animal relationships has important implications for sustainability across species and will help to shift thinking around health and livelihoods in Africa from an anthropocentric perspective towards a post-humanist vision that enables multi-species stewardship. The project will co-produce knowledge with non-academic partners and build capacity among African scholars to maximise the reach of the research and ensure its long-term legacy.
Fields of science
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