The canine-human interrelationship as a model of post-oppositionality



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This dissertation is premised on the theory that the predominant westernized social paradigm is rooted within a system of oppositionality, a way of believing, being, and behaving through which concepts and entities are set against each other in a binarily divided and ranked system of continual conflict and disparity. Oppositionality depends upon (and proceeds from) internalized and interpersonal division, disconnection, and the disavowal of commonality, and it affects both individuals and social institutions. Surveying predominant western philosophy and religion, my study argues oppositionality as a system of vast, intersectional social and planetary harm that has been instrumental in bringing about the current epoch of the Anthropocene.

Despite the predominance of oppositionality, I argue that there are ideas that we hold, things that we do, and identities that we embody that elude or are quietly immune from oppositionality’s conceptualization and practice. These ideas, actions, and ontologies rise as anomalies, as outliers to the dominant system, and an examination of an anomaly can shift the predominance of oppositionality, enable consciousnesses and practices of post-oppositionality.

Using textual analysis and Gloria Anzaldúa’s narrative genre autohistoria-teoría, I explore a speculated prehistoric pre-oppositionality of the canine and human co-evolution and explicate the contemporary canine-human interrelationship as an anomaly to westernized oppositionality—as a site of compelling implications, possibilities, and potentials. Utilizing recent data, I examine the startling reconceptualization of the dog in the United States within the last twenty years, theorizing this reconceptualization as demonstrating the dog-human interrelationship as a liminal space in which an increasing number of humans envision, experiment with, and enact post-oppositionality. As such, my dissertation speculates, the dog-human interrelationship is an anomaly to prevailing oppositionality and exists as a model of post-oppositional possibilities.



Dogs, Post-oppositionality, Paradigm shift