Abstract: Of People and Peccaries: Perception and Politics in the Texas Hill Country

I am giving a talk in October for the Royal Anthropological Institute: https://www.therai.org.uk/conferences/anthropology-and-conservation/panels#10866

Here is the abstract for my talk based on original research at one of my fieldsites in the Texas Hill Country.

Javelinas (Pecari tajacu) are porcine-like mammals that range from the southwest United States to northern Argentina. While common in west and south Texas, United States, they are encountered infrequently in the Texas Hill Country. One group of javelinas resides on private property in the Hill Country and are members of a broad, multispecies community in which they participate in community-making alongside human and other neighbors.

I argue that human-javelina relations on this private property in the Texas Hill Country are formed by intimate negotiations of space and being that rely on mutual sensing and interpreting: a multispecies politics. It is through participating in multispecies politics that community is made. In order to participate with other-than-human community members, ambiguity must be addressed. For javelinas, ambiguity results from divergent modes of perception and the presence of obscuring lively interlopers (feral hogs) that, while resembling javelinas, are ecologically and behaviorally distinct. This case study demonstrates one way in which anthropocentrism is challenged, not by rejecting Western ontologies, but by modulating attention and a willingness to participate.

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