19. 1. 2023

Pig worlds: understanding porcine multiplicity in the Anthropocene

Panel at Relations and Beyond conference, March 21-23 in Rovaniemi, Finland

Living as co-symbionts with humans for millennia, pigs are highly adaptable beings. Enacted in multiple ways, they are a ‘diaspora’ constituted through diverse social, ecological, and historical relations. There is no single Sus Scrofa kind, rather, pigs are a kaleidoscope of bodies, capacities, identities, and subjectivities, engaged with by humans as meat, game, pests, ecological engineers, homely companions, medical surrogates, and spiritual relatives. They are great disruptors, challenging the moral, ethical, and spatial (b)orders humans devise to differentiate the im/pure, un/desirable, or domestic/wild.

Porcine subjects offer a multifaceted set of human-nonhuman interactions and perspectives that benefit anthropological comparison. Their multiplicity also enables us to articulate the precarity, contradictions, and patchiness of the Anthropocene. Porcine ways of being are dramatically afforded and constrained during this era. While some have proliferated through colonial expansion, climatic transformation, industrial capitalism, and plantation ecologies, others are threatened by these shifting conditions. Pigs are embroiled in contemporary anthropological concerns, such as emergent pathogenic ecologies, destructive global infrastructures, and other-than-human necropolitics.

This session explores the multiplicity of pig worlds, storying their lives and relations, and their limits. Following the generalist tendencies of pigs, contributions unfold in or between forests, farms, cities, abattoirs, laboratories or homes, and reside in the material and spiritual. Thinking through difference, querying hegemonic discourse, reconceptualising their presences in the Anthropocene, the session seeks to probe ways we can understand and reconceptualise such beings, their relations and beyond.

Note: the above image was AI generated with keywords from the panel abstract, plus the name ‘Salvador Dali’


Annika Pohl Harrisson

Annika Pohl Harrisson is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Anthropology at Aarhus University. Her postdoc is with the research project “Fencing the Feral – Biosecurity and the Invasive Other in the Danish-German Borderlands.” She focuses on how national spaces and borders are co-produced through the technological intervention of wildlife fencing. Her talk will engage with pig production and its logics in Denmark.

Online: Annika Pohl Harrisson (@annikapha) / Twitterand Fencing the Feral (

Dan Wu

A PhD Candidate in the Department of Applied Social Sciences in The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. My research interests include nature-society relationship and ethnic studies, family and urbanization, development and voluntarism. The presented research aims to examine how the rural Tibetans adapt to the Anthropocene through the pig breeds changes in the past decade.

Online: Dan WU (@wudansunny) / Twitter


I am an environmental anthropologist of South East Asia region currently working as Research Fellow in the Oriental Institute of Czech Academy of Science. My scholarly interests are the intersections of food, environmental history, animal-human relations, and cultural politics as well as anthropology theory of value. I am presenting the ecological and social histories of human-pigs’ modes of being and valuation on Siberut Island, Indonesia.

Online: Darmanto, Ph.D. – Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences (

  • Darmanto, & Persoon, Gerard. (In press). Watching from deep water: Crocodiles, morality, and environmental transformation on Siberut Island (Indonesia). In Water Powers: Divine Animals of Riverine and Maritime Asia, edited by Aike P. Rots, Florence Durney, and Lindsey DeWitt Prat. Manoa: Hawaii University Press.
  • Darmanto. 2022. Good to produce: Food, gardening and valued persons in contemporary Mentawai society, Indionesia. Indonesia and The Malay World, 50 (148): 289-312.
Guillem Rubio-Ramon

Guillem Rubio-Ramon is a PhD researcher in Human Geography at the University of Edinburgh. His work combines perspectives from human-animal studies and political ecology. His doctoral research focuses on the connections between animal agriculture and nationalism in Catalonia and Scotland, with a specific focus on pig farming and salmon aquaculture. He will present a paper on his findings, which includes an analysis of the discursive and material impact of African Swine Fever on the pig farming sector in Catalonia; the biosecurity measures implemented, particularly to wild pigs, to prevent its arrival; and the relationship between these issues and nationalism.

Online: Guillem Rubio-Ramon (@guillemrubio) / Twitter & Guillem Rubio-Ramon

  • Rubio-Ramon, Guillem, and Krithika Srinivasan. 2022. ‘Methodologies for Animal Geographies: Approaches Within and Beyond the Human’. In The Routledge Handbook of Methodologies in Human Geography. Routledge. 
Hélène Le Deunff

Hélène Le Deunff received her PhD in Environmental Humanities from the University of Sydney in 2021 and is now an independent researcher. Hélène’s research interest is in the human-animal-water interrelations. Her talk is based on her thesis. It explores how taking up the furtive moments and sites in which hopeful worlds are crafted in human-pig water encounters on a Pacific Island can help find productive ways to inhabit damaged city waterscapes together.  


Jan Ketil Simonsen & Lorenzo Cañás Bottos

Jan Ketil Simonsen (PhD 2000, Oslo) is professor of anthropology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He has conducted longitudinal research in Zambia on ritual, kinship, and migration, and, more recently, collaborative research in Spain on the cultural world of Iberian pigs. He will speak about the relational complexities of the industrialisation of cured Iberian ham production and the ensuing cultural primodialization of the Iberian pig and the oak grove pastures in which some of them roam. His research interests also include visual anthropology.

Online: Homepage and About the project

Lorenzo Cañás Bottos (PhD 2004, Manchester) is professor of anthropology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and previously founding Chaired Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology at Tallinn University, Estonia. He has done fieldwork among Old Colony Mennonites in Bolivia and Argentina, on religious and political conflict in Ireland and Northern Ireland, on descendants of Levantine immigrants in Argentina, and on the cultural world of Iberian pigs in Spain.

Online: Lorenzo Cañás Bottos – NTNU / Lorenzo Cañás Bottos (

  • Simonsen, J. K. (2020). Skogsbeitets konge, 100% naturlig og menneskets respektfulle hånd: Om industrialiseringen av iberisk svinekjøtt og kulturelle konfigureringer av grisen og eikeskogsbeitene i sørvestlige Spania. Norsk antropologisk tidsskrift30(3-04), 234-257.
  • Cañás Bottos, L. (2020). Race and Process: Certifying Iberian Pigs and Invisibilising Humans. Norsk antropologisk tidsskrift30(3-04), 258-273.
Kate Goldie

Kate Goldie is a PhD student in Geography at the University of Southampton, where her research examines the geographies of human-pig relationships across various spaces of encounter; the research laboratory, the home, and the animal sanctuary. This aims to explore the negotiations between care and harm, as well as the novel (un)ethical practices that emerge from these heterogeneous human-pig entanglements. Kate’s talk “Becoming Pet Pig: Navigating Love, Care and Radical Multispecies Kinship’ draws on her research with pet pig owners in the U.K. and explores how pigs, a farmed animal used for human consumption, can be welcomed into the family home as loved companions.

Online: Kate Goldie (@Kate_Goldie_) / Twitter

Kieran O’Mahony

Kieran is a more-than-human geographer based at the Institute of Ethnology, Czech Academy of Sciences. He currently works on the ERC BOAR project, within which he is exploring the various ways human, wild boar and pig lives are drawn together in the UK. His PhD similarly focused on the social, cultural and political transformations surrounding (re)introduced (feral) wild boar in England. His broader interests relate to rewilding, ferality, biosecurity and changing human-nonhuman relations in the Anthropocene.  

Online: The BOAR Project and Twitter 

  • Enticott G., O’Mahony, K., Shortall, O. & Sutherland, L. 2022 Natural born carers’? Reconstituting gender identity in the labour of calf care. Journal of Rural Studies, 95 362-372
  • O’Mahony, K. 2022. Inhabiting Forest of Dean borderlands: wild boar and dynamic ecologies of memory and place. Emotion, Space and Society, 45 100902
  • Broz, L., Arregui, A., & O’Mahony, K. 2021. Wild boar events and the veterinarization of multispecies coexistence. Frontiers in Conservation Science. 
Kymberley Chu

Kymberley Chu is an Anthropology PhD student at Princeton University. Currently, her doctoral research focuses on the commodification of scientific and agricultural animals. Her talk will focus on how domesticated and wild pigs are depicted as ‘pathogenic villains’ or ‘pests’ in Malaysia. 

Online: Kymberley Chu (@ChuKymberley) / Twitter and Kymberley Chu

Paul Keil 

Paul Keil is an anthropologist based at the Institute of Ethnology, Czech Academy of Sciences, and researcher with the ERC BOAR project. Keil’s ethnographic expertise lies in Australia and Northeast India, and with a focus on more-than-human relations including interspecies teamwork, wildlife co-existence, and hunting. His current research explores the place, identity, and becoming of free-living (feral) pigs in Australia from multiple perspectives, including hunting, land management, and biosecurity. 

Online: Paul G. Keil | The BOAR Project ( and PaulGKeil / (@pgkeil) / Twitter

  • Keil P G. (forthcoming) “Unmaking the Feral: The shifting relationship between domestic-wild pigs and settler Australians.” Environmental Humanities
  • Fair, H, V Schreer, P Keil, L Kiik, and N Rust. 2022. “Dodo Dilemmas: Conflicting Ethical Loyalties in Conservation Social Science Research.” Area.
Laura Kuen

Laura Kuen is a doctoral researcher in the BOAR team at the at the Institute of Ethnology, Czech Academy of Sciences and is interested in environmental and visual anthropology. Based on her ongoing visual-ethnographic fieldwork in a western Ukrainian borderland, Laura will talk about (re-)emerging porcine lifeworlds that result from experimental crossbreeding of wild and domestic pigs. She will reflect on the dynamic proximity between pigs and humans, the implications of redefined wild and domestic realms, and the hopes and fascinations that these practices of hybridization hold for contemporary smallholders in rural Ukraine.

Online: Laura Kuen | The BOAR Project ( and Laura Joy Kuen | and Laura Kuen 🇺🇦 (@KuenLaura) / Twitter

Sneha Gutgutia

Sneha Gutgutia is a PhD scholar at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, India. Her current research aims to contribute to rethinking urban marginality by examining human-pig relations in informal settlements in Indian cities. Her talk discusses the plight of informal pig rearing practices in Guwahati city of India in the backdrop of the African Swine Fever outbreak and urban precarity.

Online: Sneha Gutgutia (@SnehaGutgutia) / Twitter

  • Gutgutia S (2020) Pigs, Precarity and Infrastructure. Retrieved from
  • Oliver, C., Ragavan, S., Turnbull, J., Chowdhury, A., Borden, D., Fry, T., … Srivastava, S. (2021). Introduction to the urban ecologies open collection: A call for contributions on methods, ethics, and design in geographical research with urban animals. Geo: Geography and Environment, 8(2), 1–7.
Therese Kelly

Therese was awarded her PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Manchester in September 2022. Her research interests lay in the use of theories of morality and ethics to illuminate aspects of environmental activism, and her thesis explores the ethical projects of differing groups of animal rights activists in Bristol, UK. Therese’s talk focuses on a group of vegan activists who bear witness to pigs entering an abattoir. These particular encounters lead the activists to experience pigs as persons. As we do not eat persons, we should therefore not eat pigs and this perspective forms the moral basis of their outreach activism.


Virginie Vaté

Virginie Vaté is an anthropologist and a tenured research fellow at the (French)National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). As a research associate of the BOAR ERC team, she analyzes how various definitions of the boar in France illustrate the diversity of perspectives on what human-animal relations should be like. In her research, Virginie Vaté has focused on human-animal relations and religious practices in different locations of the Bering Strait area (Chukotka, Russia and Alaska, USA).

Online: Virginie Vaté – The BOAR Project

  • Dmitriy Oparin & Virginie Vaté (eds), 2021 (2022), special issue of the journal Etudes Inuit Studies, 45 (1-2), Chukotka: Understanding the Past, Contemporary practices and Perceptions of the Present, 571 pp.
  • Virginie Vaté & John Eidson, 2021 (2022), “The anthropology of Ontology in Siberia – a Critical Review”, In: Anthropologica, 63 (2).