Actors or Agents? Defining the Concept of Relational Agency in (Historical) Wildlife Encounters

  • Mieke RoscherEmail author
Part of the Cultural Animal Studies book series (CAS, volume 4)


Concepts of animal agency are more often than not exemplified using the relationship between humans and domesticated animals as proofs for their making a difference in this world. This is particular the case for the conceptualization of historical human-animal encounters. In order to also include so called “wild” animals in historical narratives this article therefore argues for an expansion of the idea of relationality to frame both the encounter as well as the space of encounter as relational. Using the example of the European bison (wisent) and the American bison (buffalo), it argues that spatial relations are fundamental in determining just how interspecies relationships work and that by exploring spatiotemporal arrangements of the past, the array of possible animal agency can be laid out and uncovered. It also calls for categorizing ‘wild’ as a specific form of relationship, producing a specific cultural animal type that should be regarded alongside forms of domestication and other encounters with animals when theorizing about animal agency.


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.KasselGermany

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