Single Shot: Interspecies Care and Responsibility

Author: Muhammad Kavesh, who recently completed his PhD in anthropology at the School of Culture, History, and Language at the Australian National University. His PhD project, “Beyond Cage and Leash: Human-animal Relations in Rural Pakistan,” examined how human-animal relationships are conceived, developed, and carried out in South Punjab. 

Dog keeping is a polluted, unholy, and prohibited practice in rural Pakistan. Many Sunni Muslims belonging to Hanfi jurisprudence consider the dog’s mere presence in a house a symbol of misfortune and distance from God. If a person touches a dog, s/he is asked to wash hands seven times, and if they touch a wet dog, they must take a bath. Those who are educated, resort to a “germ” type of explanation, stating that a dog’s saliva is dirty and carries diseases such as rabies. In this situation, some people step up and react against socio-religious injustice towards dogs. They feed meat and dairy products to their canines, give them daily baths, and even keep them in their houses. Manna Chaklyar in this video engages in such an interspecies relationship of care and responsibility.

The “Single Shots” visual anthropology series is edited by Natasha Fijn.

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