Stealing from Bakhtin: Writing the Voices of the ”Voiceless”

  • Guro Flinterud


This essay investigates an approach to writing about animals within the humanities. The goal is to focus attention on animals as actors, rather than speaking on their behalf. By combining Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of speech genres with Donna Haraway’s perspectives on co-habitation between all species, I suggest that a careful attention to animals as communication partners might give us a tool to capture the contribution animals make in the creation of history and culture. Two examples will be provided to illustrate this concept: The first example is a media story about celebrity polar bear Knut. The second example is an oral account of human-animal interaction in the zoo. 


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Acampora, Ralph 2005. Zoos and Eyes: Contesting Captivity and Seeking Successor Practices. Society and Animals 13 (1): 69–88.

Bakhtin, Mikhail 1986. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Edited by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin: University of Texas Press.

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Haraway, Donna J. 2008. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

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Mullan, Bob, and Garry Marvin 1999. Zoo Culture. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
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