About the Seminar:
Big cats—tigers, leopards, and lions—that make prey of humans are commonly known as “man-eaters.” Crooked Cats: Beastly Encounters in the Anthropocene reconceptualizes them as cats that have gone off the straight path to become “crooked.” Building upon fifteen years of research in India, it moves beyond both colonial and conservationist accounts to place crooked cats at the center of the question of how we are to comprehend a planet in crisis. There are many theories on why and how a big cat comes to prey on humans, with the ecological collapse emerging as a central explanatory factor. Yet, uncertainty over the precise cause of crookedness persists. Crooked Cats explores in vivid detail the many lived complexities that arise from this absence of certain knowledge to offer startling new insights into both the governance of nonhuman animals and their intimate entanglements with humans. Through creative ethnographic storytelling, Crooked Cats illuminates the Anthropocene in three critical ways: as method, as a way of reframing human-nonhuman relations on the planet, and as a political tool indicating the urgency of academic engagement.
About the Speaker:
Nayanika Mathur is a Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies at the University of Oxford. She is the author of two monographs: Paper Tiger: Law, Bureaucracy, and the Developmental State in Himalayan India (Cambridge University Press 2016) and Crooked Cats: Beastly Encounters in the Anthropocene (Chicago University Press 2021, HarperCollins India 2022). In 2022-23, she will be a resident at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton as a member of the School of Social Sciences, writing on methodological questions opened up by the climate crisis.