The flight of the self: Exploring more-than-human companionship in rural Pakistan

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    The construct of multispecies anthropology has helped explain some of the ways through which humans develop sensory and embodied connectedness with the more-than human. Yet there is a need to fully comprehend how such connectedness leads to the discovery of the inner self. Through an ethnographic study carried out with rural South Punjabi pigeon flyers in Pakistan between 2008 and 2018, this paper argues that companionship with pigeons allows people to generate a meaningful relationship with their animals, explore their inner emotions and achieve a deeper understanding of the self. This paper takes inspiration from Donna Haraway's critique of Jacques Derrida's cat encounter, and philosophical thoughts of a 12th-century Muslim mystic poet, Farid ud-Din Attar, to examine how becoming with pigeons enables the flyers to structure their lifeworlds, develop entrenched companionship and shape their social choices to achieve wellbeing despite everyday social troubles and emotional anxieties.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)42-57
    JournalAustralian Journal of Anthropology, The
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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