Horse Cultures in Transition. Interaction and Ethics between Human and Horse in Sweden and Poland
Ekström von Essen, Ulla - Senior Lecturer
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies
Current cultural transformations reflects how the human being increasingly questions its traditional position as master of nature. This is not least obvious in the human/horse relation. Four comparative
part projects (horse welfare discussions, horse assisted coaching and leadership educations, transformations of practical/theroretical knowledge in the art and didactics of horse riding) will investigate how humans construct new fields of knowledge and norms around the horse and themselves in Sweden and Poland with its starting-point in Studies in practical knowledge, Ethics, Didactics and also History of ideas to put light on the tensions between tradition and innovation.
Horse enterprises in both countries are expanding. In Poland, the horse is a national pride, deeply connected to national identity and traditions. Poland’s economy is growing fast. Radically new enterprises like horse assisted leadership educations are successfully established. In Sweden horse riding has become more of a peoples movement.
We explore how different cultural, political and economical conditions affect the formation of new fields of horse knowledge and practises by investigating what we call different horse-views – i.e. understandings of the horse encompassing epistemological, ideological and ethical assumptions about the human being, nature and the animal. A horseview does not have to be theoretically articulated, it is rather expressed in the practices surrounding the horse. We investigate and interpret – by filmed observations, semi-structured interviews and analysis of central ideas in handbooks – both practical and theoretical dimensions of these practises and especially the interplay between theoretical and practical knowledges.
The project is expected to contribute not only to horse-related issues but also to a broader discussion about practical knowledge and its relation to academic knowledge. Horse-practices traditionally does not have any relation to academic research and education. But this is changing today and the suggested project wants to contribute to the incipient academisation of horsepractices and discuss horse-views, ethical norms, and transformations in the art and didactics of riding. The results will be published in English contributing to both transition and ackumulation of practical knowledge - and how to academically investigate it - between Sweden and Poland.