Wild and domestic thus emerge not as polar opposites, but a shades along a spectrum of symbiosis, cooperation, and even mutual benefit. This is very well understood by indigenous peoples, but much less so by scientists, or by the national legal regimes which regulate human-animal relations, and which we believe will be particularly instructive in revealing the hidden assumptions behind these categories. Our emphasis on fluid reality stands in strong opposition to the fixity implicit in such approaches, in which animals are seen as void of agency, but rather passive objects of control or protection.
Perspectivism as in interdisciplinary umbrella has transformative potential for understanding human-environment relations, and our project realises this potential across so many disciplines for the first time. While anthropologists have engaged with genetics in their perspectivist theorizing of fluid realities, biological determinism largely fails to embrace the potential of perspectivism in genetics. Our genetics team has already started exploring more processual approaches through innovative gene expression analysis. The RNA sampling in this project will be pioneering through an explicitly perspectivist approach.
Thus, for all disciplines in this project, perspectivist approaches lead to transformative insights not only within their respective fields, but also to a new integrated theory of the domestic and the wild in human-animal relations that acknowledges diversity of perspectives, yet is united by the idea of fluent realities and thus questions static categorisations. For human sustainable livelihoods in a northern environment, perspectivism means going beyond the search for one ideal solution to overcome unsustainable human behaviour. The diversity of approaches on both sides of the Finnish–Russian border is an excellent arena to demonstrate the potential of this approach.