Universitas Indonesia Conferences, 7th International Symposium of Journal Antropologi Indonesia

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Dog Care Knowledges and Practices in Bali, Indonesia
Ann Marie Thornburg

Building: Soegondo Building
Room: 522
Date: 2019-07-26 08:00 AM – 09:30 AM
Last modified: 2019-06-21


This paper asks how people’s relationships with dogs in Bali, Indonesia are impacted by development programs targeting the health and wellbeing of multispecies communities. Further, it examines the multiple moral economies driving how people care for and live with dogs both at sites of development interventions and outside of them. Bali is a site of intense transnational activity, given its place within historic exchange networks, colonial empire, and development as a tourist destination. On this majority Hindu island, centuries-old relationships between people and dogs are described in the Lontar Carcan Asu manuscript. This lontar provides information about the dogs most suitable for diverse forms of companionship with humans. Today dogs in Bali continue to support their communities, whether by accompanying farmers to rice fields or protecting their family compounds from visible and invisible threats. However, in 2008, rabies outbreaks on the island killed hundreds of people and dogs, prompting local and transnational mitigation programs to cull and vaccinate dogs. While the threat of rabies remains a concern for dogs and communities, the daily work of dog care also involves population management via spaying and neutering adult dogs, rescuing and rehabilitating puppies and adults, and the many other activities involved in cultivating multispecies communities. Development activities unfold alongside care practices rooted in Balinese ways of knowing and acting in the world. This paper will begin to disentangle the various moral economies undergirding the priorities and practices of development interventions and the communities they impact to both ask how each might understand human-dog companionship.