Keri Brandt 1 A Language of Their Own: An Interactionist Approach to Human-Horse Communication ABSTRACT This paper explores the process of human-horse communication using ethnographic data of in-depth inter views and par ticipant obser vation. Guided by symbolic interactionism, the paper argues that humans and horses co-create a language system by way of the body to facilitate the creation of shared meaning.This research challenges the privileged status of verbal language and suggests that non-verbal communication and language systems of the body have their own unique complexities. This investigation of human- horse communication offers new possibilities to understand the subjective and intersubjective world of non-verbal language using beings—human and nonhuman alike. Within the social sciences there is scant research about the relationships humans share with their equine companions (Wipper, 2000; Lawrence, 1982, 1984). Most of the literature available examines cowboys of the Old West and Indian warriors and the pur- pose horses served in their lives (Werner 2001; Dyck, 1996; Lawrence, 1982; Roe, 1955; Haines, 1938; Wissler, 1914). Currently, an exciting and growing body of literature on human-nonhuman animal relationships highlights Society & Animals 12:4 © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2004 S&A 12,4_art315_299-316 1/6/05 3:07 PM Page 299 the
Society & Animals – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2004
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