The Western history discipline has recently experienced a growing appreciation of animals as subjects of historical concern, part of what has been described as the “animal turn” in the humanities. While briefly examining some historiographical points related to this burgeoning trend, this article looks to the question of whether animals have history itself as a device to reframe the relationship humans have with both animals and history. Through this process, this article highlights how respecting the unknown possibility and the possibility of the unknown history from the animal perspective recasts the inquiry into “history” as a parochial human endeavor, entangled in the limits of human knowledge, perception, and frailty. It is this same human frailty that explains why humans must understand animal history if only from a human perspective—because humans have fundamentally depended on animals for their survival and development in their own history. Taking these points together, this article asserts that appreciating the existence (and weakness) of the human lens gives new meaning and a sense of humility to the inquiry into animal history, such as how animal history may be better understood in the plural (“histories”), how humans might be freed from universal history and human exceptionalism, and how this humility encourages more ethical treatment of animals.

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