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Song dog suburbia: Restorying the more-than-human city through coyote ethnography

Authors: Lauren Van Patter*, Queen's University
Topics: Animal Geographies, Cultural Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: multispecies, autoethnography, coyote, intimacy, more-than-human city, storying
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Drawing on multispecies- and auto-ethnographic data, this paper reflects on moments of intimacy, trust, and communication with a wild coyote participant, troubling the binary separation of domesticated and wild, conflict and coexistence, research and worldmaking amidst Anthropocene urban ecologies. During fieldwork in Ontario, Canada, a coyote family was forced to relocate their den to a vulnerable position next to a busy road. Acting on the fear and antagonism this event induced in the community, I spent the following month observing and witnessing their complex negotiations with humans and domestic dogs, working to actively mitigate any conflicts that arose. My intervention entailed not only communicating with human residents, but also communicating directly with the coyote father in an attempt to reshape his behaviour and aid the family’s chances of survival. This paper reflects on themes of encounter, attunement, storying, and enskilment as I moved through a process of becoming-mediator; my body translating between the complexities of human politics and the coyote's embodied knowledge of his immediate risks and circumstances. It explores how broader biopolitical narratives of wildlife management map onto the encounters and everyday lives of individual animals and humans in urban spaces. By attending to the experience and knowledge of an individual wild animal, this paper decentres the human in an effort to rethink questions of scale, subjectivity, and belonging for the more-than-human city.

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