Intimacy and Investment in Canterbury Thoroughbred Horse Racing: A Study in Equine Anthropology.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis is concerned with equine attachment as a form of interspecies fictive kinship, in relation to the practices, social relations, and motivations of participant groups within the Canterbury thoroughbred racing industry. Exploring the interconnections between intimacy and investment, as both financial and emotional commitments, the different sectors of the industry are analyzed as actor-network assemblages in which boundaries between professional, economic, and social relations are porous. The thesis argues that the parameters of a distinct equine community are delineated through regulated forms of haptic access. Distinctions regarding those who are and are not permitted to touch horses, articulates with a regime of risk regulation, which is more broadly explored in its physical, social, financial, and emotional dimensions. Also integral to the character of this networked community of practitioners is the symbolism of naming and branding thoroughbreds, as well as the secular rituals of the auction and the race-day. Conceived as a naturalcultural phenomenon, the race is analyzed in terms of the cross-species meanings and experiences of jockeys and apprentices, who are understood as representatives of an occupational sub-culture. Finally, this thesis also explores the preponderance of women in South Island racing; charting the path by which they have successfully adopted traditionally male-dominated roles.