Researching Contested Relationships: Responsibility and Care-work in the Field

Authors: Stephanie Eccles*, Concordia University
Topics: Animal Geographies, Political Geography
Keywords: Multispecies ethnography, Critical Animal Geography
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The rise of multispecies ethnography has brought attention to key challenges in conducting ethical research across the species barrier. A central challenge is how to meaningfully incorporate nonhuman animals as research participants in an institution that does not recognize them as political, sentient beings. Reflecting on my graduate project, I elaborate the ways in which I was able to meaningfully incorporate individual dog’s stories, as well as their human companions experiences of living under Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) in the city of Montreal, Canada. By modeling my research methodologies in the feminist tradition of care ethics, I detail the ways in which my primary methodologies of participant observation, and auto-ethnography were committed to upholding my responsibilities as a researcher to participants (both human, and dog) as well as ways in which I was able to capture dog’s embodied experiences of BSL (for example, conducting walking interviews). Key to this presentation will be a discussion of a particular relationship that was formed with three participants Justin, and his two dogs Scottie and Meeshka. I detail this story from my project with the intention to elaborate on an instance of solidarity between participants and myself as a researcher.

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