Human-Animal Studies focuses on the cultural, social and societal dimensions of non-human animals and human-animal relations. In this respect, Human-Animal Studies is not so much a field in its own right but rather a multidisciplinary research agenda which, with the help of an interdisciplinary research programme and methodological apparatus, aims to investigate the impact of human actions on the living conditions of non-human beings. At the same time, it emphasises the impact of animals upon human societies. Its concern is to break through the boundaries drawn between nature and culture and instead to underscore the cultural nature of animal existence. It is interested in what the dividing line between the species actually mean and what social (and in part also ethical) consequences they have. Furthermore, it asks whether and how it might be possible to look at animals from a non-anthropocentric point of view. In order to outline these concerns of Human-Animal Studies, this entry presents genealogically distinct developments in a field that is still characterised by its disciplinary indeterminacy. The debates are presented on the basis of the field’s defining question of the life and existence of animals and discusses how these can be made experienceable. The categories of representation/semiotics, agency, relationality, practice/practices and materiality will be used to present relevant fields of discourse in Human-Animal Studies, and the entry outlines how animal-human relations are framed in research practice in these fields.
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