Human-Animal Relations at the Center of Attention: A Chance/Case Study of Serbia


  • Sonja Žakula The Institute of Ethnography SASA, Belgrade, Serbia



human-animal relations, organizing, COVID-19 pandemic, anthropocene, nature of culture


In late 2018 and early 2019, the city of Belgrade was host to as many as four different exhibitions with the topic of human-animal relations. The fact that these exhibitions were held in such a short time in a city the size of Belgrade is in itself interesting, seeing as the topic of human-animal relations is still not part of the academic and artistic mainstream globally, let alone in Serbia. The themes and messages of these exhibitions seem even more relevant with regard to the current global situation. Thus, the two main goals of this paper are: 1. to point out the importance studying human-animal relations in the social sciences and the humanities can have for the understanding of different economic, political and ideological assemblages of the anthropocene that make human civilization, seemingly apart from nature, susceptible to catastrophes such as the current COVID-19 global pandemic – through the analysis of the contents of the exhibitions and the panel discussions that accompanied them; 2. to indicate the welcome rise in interest in issues of human-animal relations evident in both the general public and academic and artistic contexts in Serbia. The paper offers an analytical overview of the contents of the Of Animals and Humans, Covoyagers, Instinct and Terrain and Emil/Specimen B5044 exhibitions, the ensuing discussions with the public and some of the main issues raised within these discussions such as the issue of responsibility humans have toward other species we share the planet with, as well as the issue of the accountability of big polluters, which is often swept under the rug through the utilization of discourse on the impact of Man – with a capital m – on the environment. The paper also emphasizes the importance of these topics for life in the anthropocene, and calls attention to the emergent interest in human-animal relations and innovative theoretical approaches to them in Serbian academia, especially in ethnology and anthropology and archaeology. 


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How to Cite

Žakula, Sonja. 2021. “Human-Animal Relations at the Center of Attention: A Chance Case Study of Serbia”. Etnoantropološki Problemi Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 16 (1):105–133.