CLAN – Children-Animals Friendships: challenging boundaries between humans and non-humans in contemporary societies

Since 2018 I have been the Principal Investigator of project CLAN. Funded by the Portuguese Scientific Foundation (PTDC/SOC 28415/2017), this project aims at understanding the relationships between children and companion animals, by analysing their affective practices, and discusses how these are intertwined with other practices and objects, such as those needed to take care of a pet. Children and pets are considered as co-producers of a common world, where the boundaries of what is a child, and an animal, are built, and permanently reconfigured. The project uses qualitative methods to explore these relationships and their affective dimensions, in the context of the household and parent-child interaction. Children are asked to put themselves ‘in the shoes’ of their pets, who in turn are observed, in their relationship with children, and the material world that surrounds them. The project also engages with relevant stakeholders related to both childhood and animal life: policy makers, teachers, psychologists, paediatricians, social workers, veterinaries and representatives of animal welfare associations. The project will run until September 2022, with a team of five senior scholars, plus three junior ones: one Post-Doc, one PhD student, and one MA.

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