Filming with nonhumans

Authored by: Sarah Abbott

The Routledge International Handbook of Ethnographic Film and Video

Print publication date:  April  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367185824
eBook ISBN: 9780429196997
Adobe ISBN:


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Ethnographic modes of inquiry for research with nonhumans require the same rigor as research applied to human subjects. This ensures researcher accountability to and sensitized care for nonhuman participants, so as not to separate nonhumans from their known spaces and ways of being, or disregard their needs and realities. Nonhumans, just as humans, are conative entities, meaningful to themselves in their unique efforts to survive and actualize their inherent potentials (Mathews, 2008). In simpler words, nonhumans are deeply embedded in their own life force, purpose, and interconnections with the environment(s) they interact with as home and community. Awareness of how blinders rooted in Western anthropocentric and reductionist stances inform the ways modern humans understand and treat the world we live in (Mathews, 2006) is key to allowing that other beings are also “listening, speaking” (Abram, 1996, p. 86), as individuals and as community, with unique languages, lifeways, and sensibilities, even when these are unobservable to humans.

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