Multispecies Childhoods in the North – How changing human–animal communities affect children’s lives
Strategic research project of the University of Oulu
Focus institute: Eudaimonia
Animal contacts have diverse positive effects in children’s lives. Meaningful contacts on children’s own terms are decreasing, however, and animal contacts in general are becoming less diverse. To be able to foster not only contacts but meaningful child–animal relations we need to recognise them as social relations and study how they form and are sustained in children’s daily life.
The objective of Multispecies Childhoods (AniMate) is to study how animal relations matter to children beyond the adult-imposed viewpoint of ’development’. With this information meaningful child–animal relations can be supported even in the midst of societal and environmental changes currently affecting children’s possibilities to engage with animals on their own terms.
The core data of AniMate are in-depth multispecies ethnographies conducted in four locations with 10-12 participating children and the animal participants included by these children. Prior to this, the social and cultural contexts that shape these relations are studied with c. 100 participating children across Finland.