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Leah Widdicombe is a sociocultural anthropologist interested in the anthropology of science and human-animal interactions in the United States. Her research focuses on “Animal Identity”: the ways in which each of us incorporate narratives of science and religion to form our identity around being a human primate. In her first publication, Leah investigated to what extent U.S. law and policy students consider themselves to be an animal, and how this identity might impact their concerns for nonhuman animals in law and policy.
Now, as a Ph.D. student at Pitt, Leah is interested in exploring the role that scientists have in co-constructing our identities as animal. Specifically focusing on animal behaviorists and primatologists in the United States, Leah investigates how culture influences the ways that scientists produce and utilize scientific findings, and how their findings influence U.S. culture and public policy. She questions how a scientist’s gender, religion etc., might influence their observations of nonhuman animal behavior; and how our human senses (sight, smell, time, etc.) used to conceive of alternate animal realities. Conversely, how do researchers’ narratives of “natural” human social behavior (altruism, competition, sexuality) inform and transform human identities, influence social norms, and shape our public policies surrounding gender, sexuality, or immigration?
Widdicombe, L., Dowling-Guyer, S., I am Homo Sapien: Perception of Evolution, Animal Identity, and Human-Animal Relationships among U.S. Law and Policy Students. Anthrozoös. https://doi.org/10.1080/08927936.2021.1926706
Degrees and Education
MA in Animals and Public Policy, Tufts University, Grafton, MA (2019)
BA in Animal Behavior, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN (2015)