Dr Samantha Hurn BA (Hons), PhD (UCL)
Contact DetailsSchool of Archaeology, History and Anthropology
Tel: 01570 434734
Job TitleLecturer in Anthropology
Role in the University
Programme Coordinator for the Anthropology (UG) and Anthrozoology (PG) programmes
I have a BA (Hons) in Ancient History and Social Anthropology from University College London, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Marketing (Chartered Institute of Marketing) and a PhD in Social Anthropology (UCL).
My primary research interests lie in cross-cultural interactions between humans and non-human animals (Anthrozoology) with a regional focus on Southern Africa (Swaziland, the Cape Peninsula and Limpopo Province in South Africa) and Europe (especially rural Andalusia, Spain and Wales, UK). In 2010 my module ‘Human-Animal Interactions in Anthropological Perspective’ won the Humane Society of the United States/Animals and Society Distinguished Course Award (for more information click here). I am also interested in material culture and issues of anthropological methodology and ethics.
Current Research Themes:
- Cultural Heritage (including Material Culture)
- Wildlife Heritage
- Agricultural diversification and rural sustainability
- Belief and Spirituality
Over the last four years I have been conducting fieldwork in Southern Africa working with colleagues at the University of Cape Town’s Baboon Research Unit looking into issues of primate conservation (South Africa) and the conservation of endangered ungulates (Swaziland). This research is primarily concerned with investigating conflicting attitudes towards wildlife heritage, especially in relation to non-human animals viewed as ‘pests’ on the Cape Peninsula (chacma baboons) and Limpopo Province (vervet monkeys), and considering the efficacy of education programmes in place in game reserves and sanctuaries throughout Southern Africa.
My fieldwork in Southern Africa in 2008 and 2009 was conducted whilst I was an anthropological consultant for The Great Primate Handshake – a volunteer-based conservation tour which aims to utilize digital media to benefit primate sanctuaries - and as such I was charged with investigating the efficacy of digital media in raising awareness of the conservation issues presented by South African primates – this is an ongoing project, and I am in the process of writing up the provisional findings.
I have been conducting fieldwork in rural Wales for the past 11 years, looking at rural traditions (e.g. hunting, agricultural shows, farming practices). I am especially interested in diversification strategies (e.g. equestrian tourism) and the shift from conventional to organic agriculture. While much of my research has been focussed on indigenous animals (especially Welsh Cobs), I am also interested in 'equine diaspora' - in other words, non-native horses who are bred in west Wales, in particular the Arabian horse. This has fed into the ‘Riding the Trod’ project which saw me conduct a 25 mile horseback pilgrimage over the Cambrian Mountains and through the Elan Valley in west Wales along the medieval trackway called The Monks’ Trod. The Trod links the Cistercian houses of Strata Florida and Abbey Cwm Hir, and the ride was an exercise in experimental archaeology, a collaboration with archaeologists Professors Andrew Fleming and David Austin. For more information please see the project website: www.ridingthetrod.co.uk or a short film about the ride here.
I have also conducted research (collecting oral narratives) which explores the mythology of non-endemic big cat predations in the UK and am particularly interested in comparative attitudes towards nonhuman animal agency. This research was published in the February 2009 issue of Anthropology Today and I was invited to talk about my findings on the BBC Radio 4 programme Thinking Allowed. Further details and the interview itself can be found in the Thinking Allowed Archive. Belief in ‘mythological’ or ’cryptozoological’ beings will also be the focus of a panel which I am convening at the 2011 annual conference of the Association of Social Anthropologists to be held here at TSD in September 2011.
I am interested in medical anthropology on two levels. Firstly, in the use of non-human animals in animal assisted therapy. This interest developed during The Great Primate Handshake, where I encountered non-human animals in therapeutic roles, especially the use of overly habituated and/or physically or mentally damaged primates (who therefore couldn’t be re-released) for a range of mutually beneficial programmes. Inspired by my provisional findings, back home in the UK I am starting to investigate the therapeutic roles of non-human animals in other contexts, including assessing the implications for health and morale of interacting with animals in the workplace and during convalescence.
My previous research has considered domesticated animals as cultural artefacts, and looked specifically at the relationships between native Welsh ponies and Cobs and rural Welsh cultural identity. I have also considered the commoditization and exchange of ‘livestock’ as examples of material culture, and am particularly interested in the ways in which animals and the environment are represented in the work of several prominent Welsh artists.
Hurn, S. (2011) Humans and Other Animals. Human-Animal Interactions in Cross Cultural Perspective. London: Pluto Press.
Hurn, S. (2011) ‘Dressing down. Clothing animals, disguising animality’ Civilisations. Special issue: Les apparences de l’homme. 59 (2): 123 – 138.
Hurn, S. (2011) ‘Like Herding Cats! Managing conflict over wildlife heritage on South Africa’s Cape Peninsula’ Journal of Ecological and Environmental Anthropology. 6 (1): http://eea.anthro.uga.edu/index.php/eea/issue/view/10
Hurn, S. (2010) ‘Humans and other animals in the work of Anna Lucas: Conversation with the artist’ Holy Hiatus: Ritual and Community in Public Art. Cardigan: Parthian Books.
Hurn, S. (2010) 'What's in a name? Anthrozoology, human-animal studies, animal studies or something else? A comment on Caplan' Anthropology Today. June 2010. Volume 26 (3): 27 – 28.
Hurn, S. (2009) ‘Here be dragons? No, big cats! Predator symbolism in rural West Wales’ Anthropology Today. Volume 25 (1): 6 – 11.
Hurn, S. (2008) ‘The ‘Cardinauts’ of the Western coast of Wales: Exchanging and exhibiting horses in the pursuit of fame’ Journal of Material Culture. Volume 13 (3): 335 – 355. This paper won the JMC prize.
Hurn, S. (2008) ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It? The interplay between sex and gender in the commercial breeding of Welsh cobs’ Society & Animals. 16 (1): 23 – 44.
Hurn, S. (2007) ‘Cultural Conditioning: Constructions of equine obesity amongst Welsh cob exhibitors’ NES Journal of Equine Studies. Volume 2: 33 – 36
Hurn, S. (2006) ‘Horse culture? An alternative view of equine welfare’ NES Journal of Equine Studies. Volume 1: 32 – 38
September 2011. ‘’Cryptozoology: Animals out of place or time’ ASA11: Vital powers and politics: human interactions with living things. University of Wales Trinity Saint David, 13/09/2011 – 16/09/2011
April 2009. Co-convener of a panel entitled ‘Humans and Other Animals’ at the 2009 Association of Social Anthropologists annual conference, Bristol.
December 2008. Convener of an interdisciplinary research panel at the University of Wales Lampeter on ‘Shambo’ the bullock belonging to the Skanda Vale Ashram in Carmarthenshire, West Wales, who tested positive for Bovine TB and was subsequently culled amidst a media frenzy.
Hurn, S. (2011) ‘Land of beasts and dragons: Modern myth-making in rural Wales’ ASA11: Vital powers and politics: human interactions with living things. University of Wales Trinity Saint David, 13/09/2011 – 16/09/2011
Hurn, S. (2009) ‘Never look a gift horse in the mouth: The trouble with animals in human ceremonial exchanges’ ASA Annual Conference. Bristol: University of Bristol
Hurn, S. (2008) ‘Shambo in anthropological perspective’ Shambo: An interdisciplinary panel. University of Wales, Lampeter.
Hurn, S. (2007). ‘Mounted foxhunting in West Wales – a traditional pastime, but not a sport’ Traditional Games, Sports and Pastimes: Folklore Society Conference. Sheffield: University of Sheffield.
Hurn, S. (2007). ‘Bois y cobs: The historical relationship between humans and horses in Ceredigion’ Hanes Llambed. University of Wales, Lampeter
Hurn, S. (2006). ‘Bois y cobs. The place of autochthonous horses in rural Welsh cultural identity’. 21st Century Celts. Truro, Cornwall.
Hurn, S. (2006). ‘Peripheral criminals? ‘Hunting’ in the wake of the ban’. Periphery & Policy. Truro, Cornwall.
Hurn, S. (2003). ‘Anthropology and Edgework: Risk taking as a means of ethnographic research’. Future Fields. Oxford.
Hurn, S. (2011) ‘Tracking the Beast of Bont: An Anthropological Detective Story’ London Anthropology Day. (Royal Anthropological Institute event). London: British Museum. July 2011.
Hurn, S. (2011) ‘Post-domestic sacrifice: The present and future of gifts for the gods’ IEMA Visiting Scholar Conference. New York: University at Buffalo.
Hurn, S. (2010) ‘Baboons behaving badly: Conserving South Africa’s wildlife heritage against the odds’ Departmental Seminar Series. London: Goldsmiths College. December 2010.
Hurn, S. (2010) ‘Riding the Trod’ Holy Hiatus: Ritual, Community, Place. Small World Theatre: Cardigan
Hurn, S. (2010) ‘Tracking the Beast of Bont: An Anthropological Detective Story’ London Anthropology Day. (Royal Anthropological Institute event). London: British Museum. July 2010.
Hurn, S. (2010) ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn [remember Dryweryn]? Water as the lifeblood of Wales’ Waterscapes, Labour and Uncertainty: crossing the boundaries of urban and rural technonature. London: LSE. June 26th 2010.
Hurn, S. (2010) 'Agricultural diversification in rural Wales: From organic milk to 'organic' water' The Meaning of Water (ESRC Festival of Science/Royal Anthropological Institute event). London: HMS President.
Hurn, S. (2009) ‘Friend, food or foe? Humans and other animals’ London Anthropology Day. (Royal Anthropological Institute event). London: British Museum. June 2009.
Hurn, S. (2009) ‘Eating Organic. Weighing up the cost of healthy living in a rural Welsh community’ Exploring Food, Connecting Communities (ESRC Festival of Science/Royal Anthropological Institute event). London: British Museum. March 2009.
Hurn, S. (2009) ‘The Great Primate Handshake: Environmental Anthropology on the Move’ Archaeology & Anthropology Society. Lampeter: University of Wales, Lampeter. January 2009.
Hurn, S. (2008) ‘The Great Primate Handshake Anthropological Round-up’ Enterprise Week. University of Wales, Lampeter.
Hurn, S. (2008) ‘Humans, animals and art: Discussion with Anna Lucas, performance artist’ Holy Hiatus Symposium. Small World Theatre, Cardigan.
Hurn, S. (2008) ‘The ‘Cardinauts’ of the Western coast of Wales: Exchanging and exhibiting horses in the pursuit of fame’ Anthropology Department Research Seminar Series. UCL, London
Hurn, S. (2008) ‘Why they couldn’t save Shambo: The story of a sacred cow in a secular society’ Anthrozoology Society. University of Wales, Lampeter.
Hurn, S. (2008) ‘Friend, food or foe? Humans and other animals’ London Anthropology Day. (Royal Anthropological Institute event). London: British Museum. June 2008.
Hurn, S. (2008) ‘Here be dragons? No, Big Cats! Mythologizing ABC sightings in rural West Wales’ Archaeology & Anthropology Society. University of Wales, Lampeter.
Hurn, S. (2008) ‘Horse Culture’ Anthrozoology Society. University of Wales, Lampeter.
Hurn, S. (2007) ‘Bois y cobs: The historical relationship between humans and horses in Ceredigion’ Hanes Llambed. University of Wales, Lampeter
Hurn, S. (2007) ‘In the eye of the beholder: Cross cultural perceptions of the ‘perfect body’’ The Body Programme. University of Wales, Lampeter
Hurn, S. (2007) ‘My Body, mystory: Body, risk and memory’ The Body Programme. University of Wales, Lampeter.
Hurn, S. (2006) ‘Defaid duon: Welsh hunter-pastoralists and the politics of the periphery’. University of Wales, Lampeter. Archaeology & Anthropology Departmental Research Seminar.
Hurn, S. (2006) ‘Anthropology of the Body’ The Body Programme. University of Wales, Lampeter.
Hurn, S. (2003). ‘Clan of the fox: Hunting sub-culture and rural identity’ University College London. Anthropology Departmental Research Seminar.
Association of Social Anthropologists Annual Conference 2009
I recently convened a panel on human interactions with non-human animals with my new colleague Dr. Piers Locke, with Dr. Penny Dransart as discussant, at the 2009 ASA conference. The panel consisted of a wide range of interesting papers and resulted in a lively and informative debate between panel participants and audience members. Our panel abstract was entitled ‘Humans and other animals’. For more information on the ASA conference, and to see abstracts from the panel please visit the ASA website.
I am the course convener for the MA in Environmental Anthropology and am in the process of developing an MA in Human-Animal Interactions (Anthrozoology). For more details on these MA programmes please e-mail me: email@example.com
I am also the convener for the following modules:
Research Methods 1 and 2
Key Debates (Environmental)
Level 5 and 6:
Fieldwork Methods & Ethics
Human-Animal Interactions from an Anthropological Perspective
Material Culture and Cultural Identity - The Meaning of ‘Things’
Anthropology in Context (Core course for SH Anth, SH Arch & Anth)
Past & Present: Integrating Archaeology & Anthropology
Level 3 (Foundation Studies):
‘Them & Us’: Identity in Anthropological Perspective
‘Witches, werewolves, sacrifice and spirits’: An anthropology of belief systems and spirituality