"To be human does not mean to have fled animality, but on the contrary to live within it and to let it live within us…we are animals and animals are us."
One of the most fulfilling approaches that anthropologists take in understanding the human experience is looking at how we construct and subsequently express social relationships. As a result, we also view how we define ourselves in relation to others, whether by separate communities, nations, or ethnic identities. Even anthropologists, who, by definition, study human beings in their past and present constructions, observe the seemingly dichotomized barrier between us and animals; a reflection of the great divide between society and nature.
Through popular discourse, we commonly distinguish ourselves from the animal kingdom in more ways than we realize. Everyday we set ourselves apart from others, and in doing so, participate in the establishment of our identity. Over the past few decades, this has become a central concern in activist anthropology because of how these feelings contribute to and perpetuate the systems of varied social inequalities around the world. As brought forward in our last class, such inquiries about our own species can reflect how we treat other animals.
(A concrete jungle, if you will)
We are closer to nature than we think, and in more ways than one. In fact, we are fundamentally connected to the animal kingdom because of how much it influences every facet of our experiences. Culture is not a closed system, but a dynamic one that is shaped by our social relationships with our "co-existers". Through this, we can understand the nature of our prejudices against those who communicate in ways that we perceive as different from our own.
The fact that we define ourselves differently in the animal kingdom does not necessarily mean that we are different.