We are excited to announce our upcoming Colloquium Series event, Talking to Lions: Human-Animal Cultures and the Power of Stories, on Wednesday, May 29, 2024 at 9am PT/12pm ET/6pm SAST with Dr. Sandra Swart.

Event Description: ‘If a lion could speak,’ the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, ‘we could not understand him.’ But lions do ‘speak’ – they communicate in voice and action – and we homo sapiens have long tried to understand them and sometimes succeeded. In this talk, Dr. Swart will show how contact between humans and lions has sometimes shown evidence of mutual comprehension that has been co-created by the changes in human and lion lifeways. Dr. Swart will discuss how, at the same time as Wittgenstein used the lion to illustrate the impossibility of such communication, a real lion-human community were speaking to each other and used this conversation to survive in a shared territory in the Kalahari desert. This story, of how two apex predators learned to live together in a shared world, will be used as a way of thinking afresh about how we tell more-than-human histories in a way that challenges us to take animal cultures seriously.

Speaker: Dr. Sandra Swart is Professor and Chair of the Department of History, Stellenbosch University in South Africa. She received her DPhil in Modern History from Oxford University in 2001, while simultaneously obtaining an MSc in Environmental Change and Management, also at Oxford. She studies socio-environmental history of southern Africa, focusing on animals. She is an editor of the Brill book series African and Asian Anthropocene, an editor of the South African Historical Journal, past President of the Southern African Historical Society and current co-Vice President of European Society for Environmental History. Her most recent book is The Lion’s Historian: Africa’s Animal Past (Jacana, 2023).

Register here.

ASI and the Animals & Society section of the American Sociological Association co-sponsor this Colloquium Series which is dedicated to highlighting research by emerging human-animal relationship scholars. This series also features publication workshops, job talks, and research by established scholars in the field.

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