Name: Nora M. Battermann
Thesis Title: Revealing Reynard: a 10,000 year cultural biography of human-fox interactions
The recent ‘animal turn’ within the humanities has led to the realisation that human-animal relationships can serve as a lens for meaningful understandings of past human societies. This potential is now being realised in archaeology, with a recognised need to shift attention away from “economically important” species (Sykes 2014). The fox has not previously been subjected to detailed scrutiny, even though it is often recovered archaeologically: 28% of southern English sites contain fox or fox/dog bones (there is morphological similarity with small dogs; Hambleton 2009). Where identified, interpretation usually emphasises economic importance (i.e. fur).
This research project will unpick the complex cultural history of human-fox interactions in England to disclose how changing worldviews are reflected in the conceptualisation and treatment of animals. As a commensal species with crepuscular habits, the fox inhabits a liminal space: in Cartesian terms it can be seen to be ‘nature’ and ‘culture’, ‘wild’ and ‘domestic’. The ethology of the fox has generated a diverse range of human responses ranging from classification as vermin to incorporation into folk belief. The diversity of human responses to this animal makes it an ideal vehicle to explore the complexity and changing nature of human attitudes towards animals and ‘outsiders’. This interdisciplinary study will combine archaeology, biomolecular evidence and written sources (folklore, religious and philosophical). Taking a longue durée perspective will provide new insights into the impact of belief systems, cultural changes, and political and economic shifts on people’s conceptualisations of animals. The main research focus lies on zooarchaeological material, which will be compiled and enhanced by the re-analysis of archived material from Leicestershire to incorporate dietary stable isotope analysis.
Supervisors and Institution(s):
Dr Richard Thomas (University of Leicester);
Dr Hannah O'Regan (University of Nottingham)
Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):
- Battermann, N.M. (2017). Student review of ‘Grand Challenges in Environmental Archaeology’. Association for Environmental Archaeology: Student Blog. http://envarch.net/student-review-of-grand-challenges-in-environmental-archaeology-nora-battermann/
- Battermann, N.M. (2017). The cat among the Romans: Exploring human-cat relationships in rural Roman Britain. Unpublished MSc dissertation: University of York.
- Battermann, N.M. (2017). Chickens and People: Past, Present and Future: 27th January 2017, University of Oxford Natural History Museum. AEA Newsletter 135, February/March 2017, 5.
- Battermann, N.M. (2016). Exotics and Empire: An Investigation into Roman Conceptions of the ‘Wild’. Unpublished BA dissertation: University of Leicester.
Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:
- AEA Student Poster Prize
- Midlands3Cities Poster Prize
Samuel & Rachel May Prize from the University of Leicester
Dame Rosemary Cramp Dissertation Prize from the University of Leicester
John Evans Dissertation Prize from the Association for Environmental Archaeology
- Student assistant at Bradgate Park Fieldschool (2015-present)
Second Year Archaeology Prize from the University of Leicester
Other Research Interests:
- Roman archaeology
- Exotic animals
University email address: email@example.com
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