Muhammad Kavesh (PhD, ANU, PostDoc University of Toronto & Australian Anthropological Society) is an Australian Research Council’s Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) fellow in anthropology at the School of Culture, History, and Language. He is the author of “Animal Enthusiasms: Life Beyond Cage and Leash in Rural Pakistan (2021, read the book introduction). Based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork in rural South Punjab in Pakistan, the book examines the crucial cultural concept of shauq (enthusiasm) and explores how human–animal relationships are conceived, developed, and carried out through practices such as pigeon flying, cockfighting, and dogfighting. Kavesh is also the lead editor of the book “Nurturing Alternative Futures: Living with Diversity in a More-than-Human World” (2023, read the book synopsis). His next book project “Spies and Other Pigeons: On the Ethics of Multispecies Hospitality in South Asia” brings novel insights from philosophy, multispecies anthropology, and South Asian studies to ask what it means to host a more-than-human Other (or intruder) at home.

Kavesh has co-edited two special journal issues, both are available as open access. The first co-edited special journal issue, “Anthropology of Mutualism (2023, Anthropology Today > freely available at the Royal Anthropological Institute’s website) brings a multispecies anthropological approach into dialogue with zoological understandings of mutualism. His second co-edited special journal issue, “Sense Making in a More-than-Human World” (2021, The Australian Journal of Anthropology > freely available at TAJA website) knots multi-sensory perspective with multi-species approach to explore how both human and more-than-human lives are intertwined, and how their close examination can guide anthropologists in their ability to capture the subtleties of more-than-human engagement, connection, and relatedness.

Kavesh’s approach is influenced by his long-standing interest in multispecies anthropology, philosophy, Sufi poetry, decolonization, and South Asian vernacular literature. His article, “Face-to-face with the (animal) Other” (2023, American Ethnologist > freely available at the AE website) builds on Emmanuel Levinas’s concept of infinity and asks how would conceiving the Other beyond a political or religious other, or even beyond a human subject, create a possibility of decolonization. Another article recently published in the Journal of Asian Studies titled “Contested Flights: The Perplexity of Intruding ‘Spy Pigeons’ at the India-Pakistan Border” explores geo-political stability, national security, and cultural understandings through the flight of pigeons (available to read at Duke University Press’s website). His recent paper in American Anthropologist titled “Welcoming the Foreigner: Notes on the Possibility of Multispecies Hospitality” (freely available at the AA website) examines the concept of hospitality beyond humans.

From mid-2023, Kavesh is engaging with an Australian Research Council’s funded multi-year project to explore how China’s soaring demand for Pakistan’s donkeys through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative) for developing a Chinese traditional medicine, ejiao, presents multiple challenges to the economy, employment, and multispecies relatedness in rural Pakistan. His article “Donkey Trade: Challenges to sustaining mutualism in Rural Pakistan” is freely available to read at Royal Anthropological Institute’s online Wiley website.   

Kavesh’s publications develop on various sources of funding, including:

  • Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (2018–2023)
  • Australian Research Council’s DECRA fellowship (2023–2027)
  • FAS Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Toronto (2021–2023)
  • Australian Anthropological Society’s Postdoctoral Fellowship (2019–2020)
  • Australian Government’s Endeavour Award (2014–2018)
  • South Asian Research Institute’s grant, 2017
  • Raymond Firth Award, ANU Anthropology, 2016
  • Vice Chancellor’s Student Leadership grant, ANU 2015-16
  • Robin Wood Award, AAS, 2015 

Kavesh has organized panels on topics related to multispecies anthropology at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting (2022), Royal Anthropological Institute’s conference (2020), and the Australian Anthropological Society’s conferences (2016 & 2019). He has presented his work at Oxford, Sydney, ANU, Toronto, Wollongong, Adelaide, York, Concordia, Lahore, and Islamabad, among other places.

Kavesh’s teaching focuses on South Asia, technology, sustainability, environmental governance, and ethnographic methods. He also carries professional work experience, working with multiple humanitarian organizations in Islamabad on the UN, European Union, and DFID projects.

 

Selected Publications

2024           Muhammad Kavesh & Natasha Fijn (eds). Nurturing Alternative Futures: Living with Diversity in a More-than-Human World. Routledge, London and New York.

2024           Muhammad Kavesh, Welcoming the Foreigner: Notes on the possibility of Multispecies Hospitality. American Anthropologist, forthcoming, Vol 126, No. 1.

2024           Muhammad Kavesh, Mutualistic Self Alteration: Human-Pigeon Assemblages in Rural Pakistan, in Jean Paul Baldacchino & Christopher Houston eds. “Self-Alteration: How people change themselves across cultures”, Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, pp. 163-177.

2023           Muhammad Kavesh, Face-to-face with the (Animal) Other: An Invitation to Decolonize the Anthropology of Pakistan. American Ethnologist, 50:3, 409–418. DOI:10.1111/amet.13188.

2023           Muhammad Kavesh, Contested Flights: The Perplexity of Intruding “Spy Pigeons” at the India-Pakistan Border, Journal of Asian Studies, 82:2, 26–35. DOI: 10.1215/00219118-10290610.

2023           Muhammad Kavesh, Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt and Rajendra Adhikari, Women and plant entanglements: pulses commercialization and care relations in Punjab, Pakistan Oxford Development Studies, 51:2, 84-96. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13600818.2023.2177265.

2023           Muhammad Kavesh, Donkey Trade: Challenges to Sustaining Mutualism in Rural Pakistan. Anthropology Today, 39:1, 19–22. [available as open access]

2023           Muhammad Kavesh [with Natasha Fijn and Catie Gressier], Anthropology of Mutualism. Anthropology Today, 39:1, 1–2. [available as open access]

2023           Muhammad Kavesh [with Natasha Fijn and Catie Gressier], Mutualisms: An introduction to this issue. Anthropology Today, 39:1, 3.

2023           Muhammad Kavesh Demystifying the Promise of Sustainability through the China-Pakistan Donkey Trade, in Muhammad A. Kavesh and Natasha Fijn eds, “Nurturing Alternative Futures: Living with Diversity in a More-than-Human World,” Routledge: New York and London.

2023           Muhammad Kavesh and Natasha Fijn, Introduction: Storying Cultural and Biological Diversity, in Muhammad A Kavesh and Natasha Fijn eds, “Living with Diversity in a More-than-Human World,” Routledge: New York and London.

2023           Muhammad Kavesh [with Natasha Fijn], Towards a Multisensorial Engagement with Animals, in Phillip Vannini ed. “Routledge Companion of Sensory Ethnography,” Routledge: New York and London

2022           Muhammad Kavesh, Review of “The Snow Leopard and the Goat: Politics of Conservation in the Western Himalayas.” by Shafqat Hussain (2019) in Pacific Affairs, 95:1, pp. 168–170.

2021           Muhammad Kavesh, Animal Enthusiasms: Life beyond Cage and Leash in Pakistan. Routledge, London and New York.

2021           Muhammad Kavesh, Sensuous Entanglements: A Critique of cockfighting conceived as a ‘cultural text’. Senses and Society, 16:2, 151–163.

2021           Muhammad Kavesh, The Flight of the Self: Exploring More-than-human Companionship in Rural Pakistan. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 32, 42–57.

2021           Muhammad Kavesh [with Natasha Fijn], A Sensory Approach for Multispecies Anthropology. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 32, 6–22.

2019           Muhammad Kavesh [with Kirin Narayan], Priceless Enthusiasms: The Pursuit of Shauq in South Asia. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 42:1, 711–725.

2019           Muhammad Kavesh Dog fighting: Performing Masculinity in Rural South Punjab, Pakistan. Society & Animals, Journal of Human-Animal Studies, 27:2, 1–19

2018           Muhammad Kavesh From Passion of Kings to Pastimes of Commons: Pigeon flying, cockfighting, and dogfighting in South Asia. Pakistan Journal of Historical Studies, Indiana University Press, 3:1, 61–83.

2018           From Colony to Post-Colony: Animal Baiting and Religious Festivals in South Punjab, Pakistan, in David W. Kim’s ed. “Colonial transformation and Asian Religions in Modern History”, CSP: Newcastle. pp. 10–29.

2017           Muhammad Kavesh, Review of “Wrestlers, Pigeon Fanciers and Kite Flyers: Traditional Sports and Pastimes in Lahore.” by Frembgen, Jürgen Wasim and Paul Rollier (2014) in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 40:1, pp. 202–203.

2017           Muhammad Kavesh, Review of “Under the Palace Wall.” by David MacDougall in The Asia and Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 18:3, pp. 277–279.