Human People and Other-Than-Human People

  • Cathrine Degnen


Personhood is not a status that only human beings have a claim on. Persons can be human, and they can be other than human. Drawing on cross-cultural ethnographic materials, this chapter lays out the history of ideas on personhood in the human and the other than human realms, working through concepts such as animism, reciprocity, perspectivism, and multi-naturalism. The chapter thus highlights and challenges notions of human exceptionalism in normative Western thought, explores debates on multispecies ethnography and on human-animal relations, and demonstrates how personhood is not a fixed category. Humans can become non-humans; sometimes humans and non-humans are persons and sometimes they are not; and personhood is a category that in many cultural contexts is made in relation to non-human others.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cathrine Degnen
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Geography, Politics & SociologyNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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