A glance at a mirror suddenly revealed the animal I missed for so long:  How can interspecies, nomadic inquiry open our eyes for who we are? Av Biljana C. Fredriksen

Biljana C. Fredriksen
A glance at a mirror suddenly revealed the animal I missed for so long:  How can interspecies, nomadic inquiry open our eyes for who we are?
Keynotes: Interspecies pedagogy, Experiential learning, Ecological sustainability, More-than-human, Evolutionary aesthetics
The paper presents an interdisciplinary study inspired by post-anthropocentric turn, and challenges established understandings of what it means to be human. It is grounded in the idea that ecological sustainability of our planet depends on human’s ability to decrease the power over other species.
New insights about complex entanglements of nature and culture emerged from intersections between my research on young children’s (age 2-5) experiential learning, and engagement with my emotionally disturbed horse. The two contexts facilitated conditions for my own experiential learning, where the processes of teaching, learning and (re-)searching for meaning mutually influenced one another. Respectful long-term relationship between the horse and myself uncovered biological capacities necessary for both her and my own survival. The specific form of interdisciplinary, nomadic inquiry, where didactics of Art & Craft education and evolutionary aesthetics met studies of animal behavior – where pedagogical skills met care, respect and empathy – provided a space where lost puzzle pieces could be re-united in a broader picture. The new picture being outlined was not, however, a pleasant site. The paper rises philosophical questions about number of dualisms that have evolved over time from human misuse of power over other species and natural environments.
With examples from the case of interspecies pedagogy, the paper makes visible how learning through holistic experiences always is present in more-than-humans, but through established dualisms and power divisions in traditional schooling, gradually gets suppressed and ignored. With references to ecological philosophy of Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss and recent influence of post-humanism, the paper suggests that more-than-humans might have a chance to live in ecologically sustainable ways, only if the power of the human agency could be redistributed and shared with other species. Respectful encounters with animals can become an arena where future generations can develop true understanding and appreciation of life beyond divisions into species.
This paper can provide understanding of how qualitative, interdisciplinary approach can led to discovery of overreaching and fundamentally important issues. When we manage to look beyond traditional divisions in academic disciplines that have existed only for few decades or centuries, we might be able to notice what has been and what might be possible in the perspective of millennia.
European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry
Leuven, Belgium, 6.-9. February 2018

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