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Research Students - Social Anthropology  
Alex Saran Photo  

Year of start: 2008
Subject: Social Anthropology

Research Topic/ Provisional Dissertation Title

Domestic wilderness: exotic pet ownership in the UK.


Dr A. Abramson
Dr B. Sharpe


Pet-keeping is a distinctively human practice, and represents one of the closest forms of human-animal interaction. A prominent aspect of contemporary pet-keeping in Western societies is the proliferation of exotic pets and the significant increase in the number of species available to private owners, to the point that in the UK alone—according to recent data divulged by the British Federation of Herpetologists—there are more reptilian pets than dogs. Despite the virtually ubiquitous nature of pet-keeping, however, only very recently have social scientists in general and anthropologists in particular turned their attention to the study of this phenomenon. Moreover, the vast majority of studies dedicated to the analysis of the complex spectrum of relations that characterise human-pet interactions refer almost exclusively to traditional pets. Virtually no ethnographic study is specifically devoted to the subject of exotic pet-keeping in contemporary Western societies. As an attempt to fill this knowledge gap, the purpose of my research is to try and understand how exotic pet-keepers relate to the animals in their care, by investigating owners’ perceptions, emotions, beliefs and judgements in the context of the diverse relations and practices that characterise the current exotic animal scene in the UK.

Research interests

  • Anthrozoology
  • Wildlife Conservation and development
  • Body and self
  • Social networking

Academic Background/Education

BA(Hons) Modern Languages and Cultures (Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy)
MSc Social Anthropology (UCL)

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