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Alexandra Onofrei

In 2015, I gained a First Class Honours degree in Anthropology from the University of Aberdeen. There, I discovered and strengthened my passion for more-than-human anthropology and the anthropology of environment. I have a vested interest in interspecies communication, focussing on how examples of human-non-human relations are perceived cross-culturally, and how they integrate in various ‘modern’ or ‘developed’ socio-political contexts. Additionally, I have academic experience in the following areas: anthropology of food consumption and agriculture, multinaturalism and perspectivism, religion, ethnic discrimination, emotions, oral histories, mobility and landscape. Lastly, I developed an interest in material culture, visual anthropology, ethnomusicology and the anthropology of myth, thanks to my training in classical and folk music, plastic arts, creative writing and documentary filmmaking.

My academic interest in relations between humans and other species is fuelled by my commitment to the cause of social justice for all beings, and to sustainable living and social participation. I have been a farmworker, worked for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, and volunteered numerous times: as an ethnography and archaeology museum assistant, social justice film festival assistant, chef for a film crew, journalist and academic editor of humanities journals. I am a keen cyclist, mushroom picker and enthusiastic polyglot.

My current research focuses on pig sacrifice and interspecies creation of human and animal identities in rural parts of northern Romania. Every year, many rural humans who raise animals in their private households sacrifice at least a pig before Christmas. This is a seemingly an old tradition, causing controversy, even within rural areas. I take this as the starting point of my analysis because inasmuch as it is maintaining a narrative and picture of an unadulterated harmony of peasants and their environments, there are many emergent inconsistencies and breaches in its logic.

My analytical framework consists of three elements: local conceptions of personhood, local religion and local politics. I argue these three are important elements in my exploration of interspecies identity creation practices, as they expose the feelings and thoughts locals have about their role: personhood shows an ingrained dichotomy between nature and culture, politics is associated with failure, and often regarded with distrust, while religion is a source of hope for local humans.

My research is divided into three chronological sections, based on a previous much shorter research project I carried out on pig sacrifice. The first one, pre-sacrifice or the making of identities, looks at the communication of humans and domestic animals before pig sacrifice; the second, sacrifice/the unmaking of identities, what happens during the day of the sacrifice to all participants; and the third, post-sacrifice/aftermath, how do people and animals cope with the consequences of the sacrificial ritual.