Nature’s Past Episode 76: Methodological Challenges in Animal History

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Episode 76: Methodological Challenges in Animal History

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Elephants, horses, dolphins and bears have stories to tell about the past. Their lives and actions shape history and influence the lives of people in innumerable ways. How can these histories that animals made be studied and understood?

This is the question at the heart of a new book edited by Jennifer Bonnell and Sean Kheraj called, Traces of the Animal Past: Methodological Challenges in Animal History. Across 17 original essays, the contributors to this collection wrestle with the many ways that historians strive to understand the history of animals. The book showcases innovative methods to unearth and explain how animals fit into our collective histories.

The book is the outcome of a conference held at York University in 2019. It was published earlier this Fall by University of Calgary Press. It’s available now as an open-access book. Please look for the link in the show notes for this episode.

This episode features a roundtable discussion with contributors Jennifer Bonnell, Colleen Campbell, Jason Colby, Tina Loo, Lindsay Stallones Marshall, and Catherine McNeur.

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Jennifer Bonnell

Colleen Campbell

Jason Colby

Tina Loo

Lindsay Stallones Marshall

Catherine McNeur

Works Cited:

Bonnell, Jennifer and Sean Kheraj. Eds. Traces of the Animal Past: Methodological Challenges in Animal History. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2022.

Music Credits:

“Italian Tarantella (Long)” by Parler

“Positive Education (Version 2)” by Makesound

“Nice” by Codemusic

Photo Credit:

Entrance to the Archives of Ontario’s ANIMALIA: Animals in the Archives exhibit. Photo by Jay Young.


Kheraj, Sean. “Episode 76: Methodological Challenges in Animal History” Nature’s Past: Canadian Environmental History Podcast.

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Sean Kheraj

Associate Professor and Vice-Provost Academic at Toronto Metropolitan University
Sean Kheraj is a member of the executive committee of the Network in Canadian History and Environment. He's an associate professor in the Department of History and Vice-Provost Academic at Toronto Metropolitan University. His research and teaching focuses on environmental and Canadian history. He is also the host and producer of Nature's Past, NiCHE's audio podcast series and he blogs at

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