Bat Crew (anto_nie, Edith Jeřábková, Denisa Langrová, Ruta Putramentainte and Alex Sihelsk*)

The anthology Liminal Animal: A Feral Proximity was produced during 2023-2024 following the symposium Woods: More-than-Human Curiosity (2023) organized by Are and the Community for Cultivation, Theory and Art - Woods. We conceive of this collection of texts as a probe into contemporary thinking about the relationship between humans and non-human animals and are publishing it as a gradually expanding online publication. In the translations of the texts from English, we have chosen the path of writing gendered endings with an asterisk in an effort to make the language gender-neutral and respectfully for non-binary and queer authorship. 

The liminality in relation to the future of animals, which we question in this book, we perceive in an extended sense as an interface, a transitional state, a blurred threshold between species; individual and species; the more-than-human animal and the human and their day and night; the time in which they live; the city and the landscape; domestication and wildness; mythology and reality; the brain and the neural network; logical intelligence and sensory perception; the consciousness of nonhuman animals and artificial intelligence; normativity and queerness. Maneuvering on this interface will hopefully help us to see and remove many distortions and to approach the non-binary relationship of the human and the more-than-human being.

The collection gathers texts about human and more-than-human proximity and what all this closeness can mean and bring. Liminal animals, which can also be humans (the term has, after all, an anthropological background), show us how dysfunctional the boundaries by which humans have divided the world are, and which demonstrate the weaknesses of its modernist and anthropocentric conception. But even pursuing a more precise definition of the notion of the liminal animal, which does (not) voluntarily live on the borderline between domestication and wildness and takes advantage of the proximity of humans, can in many ways be useful in the search for ways to bring humans closer to the more-than-human world. In the Anthropocene, when mankind influences perhaps all processes on earth (and some beyond our planet), we can almost certainly deny the existence of so-called wild animals. Almost all animals on earth therefore fall into the category of liminal animals. Yet this concept can help us understand the complex relationships between human and non-human beings and the space, time, and ultimately cultures in which they meet.

The authors explore the liminality of more-than-human organisms at the intersection of scientific disciplines, artistic approaches, and fictional worlds. Michael A. Huffman & Colin A. Chapman pose the question “Why do we want to think humans are different?”, in the 2018 article that opens our anthology, a question that runs like a leitmotif throughout the book. Jeff Sebo presents a basic insight into the too-tight categories of domesticated and wild non-human animals in the section of his 2022 article “Animal”, and immediately after, Philip Howell explains liminal space as a shared ‘border’ for human and animal co-inhabitants in the study “The Trouble with Liminanimals”. In it, he takes the principle of liminality to the point of arguing that when individuals and groups of different species of liminanimals encounter each other, their shared sources of oppression can trigger interspecies defiance. Liminality in relation to queerness is discussed by Sacha Coward in the text “Queer Liminal Animals” using the example of the mythological figure of the mermaid. Richie Nimmo explores the relationship of proximity and independence between humans and non-human animals in his essay “From Over the Horizon: Animal Alterity and Liminal Intimacy beyond the Anthropomorphic Embrace”, and So Sinopoulos-Lloyd explores the roots of the mutual domestication of sheep and humans in her autoethnographic intimate study “The Spiritual Ecology of the Shepherd”. The intimacy and understanding between humans and non-human actors and the disappearance of the soundscape of extinct organisms are explored in CAConrad’s artistic texts (poems from the collection “Amanda Paradise: Resurrect Extinct Vibration”). Science fiction speculative fiction author Ama Josephine Budge (“At Home in Other Skins, In Other Formations of My Body”) extends the realm of more-than-human intimacy, corporeality, and queerness to the so-called inanimate world.

The anthology also presents several case studies focusing on so-called problem animals: Colin Jerolmack’s essay “The Global Pigeon” uses the example of the relationship between pigeons and humans to outline a way to learn to appreciate the “polluted” biodiversity of hybrid landscapes and reject speciesism (p. 237).  And Tristan Donovan, in his article “Feral Cities: Adventures with Animals in the Urban Jungle”, humorously comments on the ingenuity and cognitive abilities of non-human animals in the context of the Anthropocene, using the examples of the so-called “Berlin Big Five” - five controversial animal troublemakers terrorizing the urban landscape. A different perspective on more-than-human actors in relation to architecture and urbanism is offered by the essay “Animal Architecture: Beasts, Buildings and Us” by Paul Dobraszczyk, who shows us that “to open up space for animals in architecture is to first become aware of how non-human life is already enmeshed in both our buildings and our imaginations. In the article “Time to rethink the law on part-human chimeras?” Julian J Koplin and Julian Savulescu use a case study of Australian legal guidelines to illustrate the status of chimera experiments involving human and non-human cells as a liminal grey area of law. 


Alex Sihelsk* drew the artistic commentary for each paper during the development of the collection.


We are grateful to translators Nathan Fields, Tomáš Pivoda, Daniela Vránová for their careful and sensitive translations, especially when we consider how undeveloped the field of human-animal relations is in the Czech environment and how it does not provide a stable linguistic terminology.

We would also like to thank Karolína Mikesková for her cooperation in licensing the texts and other support.