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Political Animals: A More-than-Human Approach to Urban Inequalities


ANIMAPOLIS aims to understand the role of animals in the formation of urban inequalities, asking: How do animals’ interactions with humans and infrastructures co-produce the unequal distribution of risks and resources across urban spaces and populations? It focuses on two critical urban domains, security and public health, that are often characterized by stark inequalities, and takes the role of key animals within these domains – dogs and rats, respectively – as a unique analytical entry-point.

Urban inequalities are not only produced and transformed by people. Security dogs have been socialized to identify threatening individuals on the basis of classed and raced markers. Rats pose a public health risk, and thrive in low-income areas with decaying sanitation infrastructure. Urban scholars have recently begun to highlight the importance of infrastructures and technologies in configuring access to essential goods and services. While this research has provided key insights into how non-human entities mediate social relations, it has largely overlooked how animals, too, may co-produce inequalities.

While dogs and rats clearly play a role within security and public health, we know little about how they mediate urban inequalities related to these societal challenges. This project investigates such mechanisms by focusing first, on dogs’ and rats’ distinct biological specificities and cultural imaginations, and second, on the spatial, material and affective dimensions of their interactions with humans and infrastructure. The research design develops a two-way qualitative comparison, between different urban contexts and between different animals, through multispecies ethnographies of animal-human-infrastructure dynamics in Amsterdam and Philadelphia.

The project’s more-than-human approach extends theoretical and methodological innovations within urban anthropology, geography and human-animal studies in order to open new horizons on the study of urban inequalities.


Net EU contribution
€ 2 497 452,50
Spui 21
1012WX Amsterdam

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West-Nederland Noord-Holland Groot-Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00