A young herder throws a lasso to capture a horse in Mongolia. Credit: Natasha Fijn

A young herder throws a lasso to capture a horse in Mongolia. Credit: Natasha Fijn

Mongolian Medicine, Multispecies Storytelling and Multimodal Anthropology

12th August 2020

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Coronavirus has heightened awareness that “we can’t afford to be as anthropocentric about infectious diseases”, says ANU researcher Dr Natasha Fijn. As a research fellow at The Australian National University’s Mongolia Institute, Dr Fijn is part of an international team focusing on the transfer of knowledge relating to Mongolian Medicine and One Health, an approach that recognises that the health of people is closely connected to the health of other animals and our shared environment. The research is a collaboration with Professor Li Narangoa, also from the ANU Mongolia Institute.

“Essentially Mongolia has been working according to a One Health framework for thousands of years, well before doctors and vets in the biosciences started to say that attention to illnesses across different species was the best way of countering zoonotic disease,” Dr Fijn said in an interview with ÉKRITS for its More-Than-Human series. The interview series features scholars working on multispecies anthropology, spanning philosophy, history, literature and anthropology.

Dr Fijn has conducted extensive field research in remote places, including the Khangai Mountains of Mongolia, focusing particularly on multispecies ethnography, more-than-human sociality and concepts of domestication. She shared insights into observational filmmaking, which she incorporates into her research and field work, and her experiments with different modes of communication.

An exhibition earlier this year featured a filmic piece for which Dr Fijn had put a GoPro camera on the helmet of a young Mongolian herder riding on horseback. “It resulted in quite nice footage, as you could see how both human and horse engage with the landscape together, as one entity.”

Read the full interview between Dr Natasha Fijn and Ran Muratsu here.

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