Big Cats and the Indian City: Out-of-place beasts in the Anthropocene

3 October 2018, 4.00 PM - 3 October 2018, 5.30 PM

Professor Nayanika Mathur

G0.1, 34 Tyndalls Park Road

Part of the Centre for Environmental Humanities’ Research Seminar Series 2018/19

The first Research Seminar in the series will be at 4-5.30pm on Wednesday October 3rd, in G0.1, 34 Tyndalls Park Road. Professor Nayanika Mathur, Associate Professor in the Anthropology of South Asia at the University of Oxford, will be speaking on: “Big Cats and the Indian City: Out-of-place beasts in the Anthropocene”


This paper studies the presence of leopards in densely populated urban centres of India. It undertakes a comparative ethnography analysis of the sighting, travels, and habitation of leopards in three cities: Mumbai, Shimla, and Dehradun. There is an assumption that the entry of animals, especially predators, immediately leads to conflict. Furthermore, predatory animals are believed to be limited to rural or peri-urban spaces. In this talk, I challenge both these taken-for granted assumptions by following the arrival and movements of big cats in three cities of India – Dehradun, Shimla, and Mumbai – and studying the particular responses they have evinced. As we will see, instead of a generic response, each city and, in fact, every individual big cat, provokes its own responses. Most critically, conflict is not necessarily the outcome and narratives of conflict can be shifted through human (and, concomitantly, feline) interventions. I argue that there remains the possibility and hope of co-existence between humans and nonhuman animals in the Anthropocene.

The event will be followed by drinks and dinner. 


This event is open to staff and students only. 

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