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Trainee post: interspecies communication (between human and non-human animals)

We are looking for students who want to examine how human and non-human animals communicate with each other. The aim of this internship is to investigate how non-human language can be conceptualized as language and incorporated in sociolinguistic and linguistic anthropological theoretical frameworks. The second aim is to collect communicative practices between human and animals through field work.

The intern is expected to contribute to a literature overview about human – animal communication and a theoretical perspective how to conceptualize language in a non-anthropocentric way. Field work may be conducted among own pets (like dog, cat, bird, horse etc) but also between farmers and cows, pigs, chicken etc.

This project is part of a larger one conducted by the supervisor:

Interspecies communication: how do cows and farmers communicate?
In my new research project, I am examining interspecies communicative practices. Drawing on fieldwork in dairy farms, the aim is to find out how human and non-human animals, that is, farmers and cows, respectively communicate together to make successful farming possible with wellbeing for both ‘specie(s)’. The project is part of the broad posthuman enterprise (Haraway 2016) that questions ‘the assumed universality of human experience and why and how we draw particular distinctions between humans and other animals’ (Pennycook 2018). In Western notions of mind and self (Argent 2012), language is considered as what makes us human (Radboud website). The ownership of non-human animals like cows (Gary & Charlton 2017:29) and seeing cows as meat and milk producers only inform our thoughts that human and non-human animal interests are not alike (Meijer 2017). Research into interspecies communicative practices provides a new lens on the concept of language: instead of asking which species have language, the question becomes how may language actually work? (De Waal and Ferrari 2010, Meijer 2016).

• Argent, Gala 2012. Toward a Privileging of the Nonverbal Communication, Corporeal Synchrony, and Transcendence in Humans and Horses. Experiencing animal minds. An anthology of animal-human encounters. Smith, Julie A. & Robert W. Mitchell (eds). New York: Columbia University Press. 111-128.
• De Waal, B. M. and Pier Francesco Ferrari. 2010. Towards a bottom-up perspective on animal and human cognition. Trends in cognitive science vol. 14 (5): 201-207.
• GaryL. Francione and Anna E. Charlton. 2017. Animal rights. In: Kalof, Linda (eds.) 2017. The Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies, p 29.
• Haraway, Donna J. 2016. Staying with the trouble. Making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.
• Meijer, Eva. 2017. De soldaat was een dolfijn. Amsterdam: Cossee.
• Meijer, Eva. 2016. Dierentalen. Isvw Uitgevers.
• Pennycook, Alastair. 2018. Posthumanist Applied Linguistics. Routledge
• Website Radboud University, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Language Studies: (accessed 21-09-2018).

Students sociolinguistics, anthropology, sociology etc. may apply

Practical info
The Meertens Instituut offers an internship compensation, a workplace and supervision

Please contact Prof. dr. Leonie Cornips for more information and/or signing up, tel. 020-4628500

Meertens Instituut
Oudezijds Achterburgwal 185,
1012 DK Amsterdam
tel: (020) 462 85 00