In the Margins of One Health: Interspecies Solidarity, Care, and Inequality

Laura Murray

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New York University




This paper tells the story of two women—a veterinarian and a folk healer—to foster political, environmental, and social conditions in which pastoralists based in the central Indian state of Maharashtra could thrive. For them, this practice of fostering necessarily meant tending to human and nonhuman animals together. The women I followed called this interspeciated practice, One Health. To be sure, they borrowed this term from more economically-dominant and politically-normative international development organizations. When wielded by these institutions, One Health has designated a model for preventing emerging zoonotic diseases, and the pandemics they often cause, through the surveillance of marginal livestock rearing communities, often in the Global South. My interlocutors’ projects intersected with One Health—and thus were available for funding from it—insofar as the central conceit of One Health was that human and nonhuman animals can share illness. Yet the politics and ethics of the two were very different. I make this case by ethnographically tracking different modalities of seeing that characterize One Health and its vernaculars. Sight, I argue, operates as a perceptual orientation that initiates a “becoming-with” the world for my interlocutors versus a tool to control it (Dave, 2012). How, I therefore ask, might different ways of apprehending the bonds of human and nonhuman beings reveal how we might yet learn to dwell differently on an exhausted planet?


Keywords: feminist anthropology, multispecies ethnography, embodiment and the senses