Companion Animals and the Affective Turn: Reconstructing the Human-Horse Relationship in Modern Culture (CONIMAL)










Funding: Academy of Finland

Period: 2011-2015

The objective of this interdisciplinary project is to study the transformation of modern human–animal relations and the social and cultural challenges they pose. The project seeks to study the development of the new animal conception through three aspects, animal-related activities, animal politics, and animal representations, in the context of the affective turn.

While companion animals have become highly significant in modern society, their study in the social and cultural sciences has been more limited than that of wild animals and agricultural animals. This project will examine the case of the horse from a cultural perspective by relying on textual-discursive and ethnographic methods to understand the transforming status of companion animals and the increasing role of affects and emotions in our relationship with animals.

The horse is chosen for the analysis because of its new popularity and its multifaceted role in transgressing many discursive categories e.g. rural-urban, leisure-work, society-nature and emotional-instrumental. As the recent interest in the horse in human-animal studies has helped in mapping the historical framework of the relationship, this project will be able to examine more specific and localized case studies from a perspective combining cultural studies and sociological perspectives.