Childhood Animalness: Relationality, Vulnerabilities, and Conviviality

Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


This paper traces how animals have been and are reduced to mere objects for use in child development, examining historical and contemporary trends in developmental literature. We alternatively present scholarship that delves into children’s and animals’ subjective encounters and intersecting worldhoods as critical of more anthropocentric developmental psychology models. We utilize continuity as a model that emerges from our field work in order to make various suggestions about the ethics that emerge from children’s embodied experiences with animals, including felt senses of vulnerability, death, and precarity. Finally, we finish the chapter by outlining potential pedagogical directions that encourage deeper reflections about the precariousness of childhood lives, lived differently and together on this planet. Key to this is the consideration of interspecies, intergenerational conviviality – emphasizing the shared joys, pleasures, and problems of multispecies living.


Developmental psychology Animalness Vulnerability Human-animal relations Childhood Conviviality 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal Behavior, Ecology, and ConservationCanisius CollegeBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of Environmental StudiesYork UniversityTorontoCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Pauliina Rautio
    • 1
  • Tracy Young
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.Swinbourne UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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