Spotlight on… Garry Marvin

Garry Marvin

Position: Professor of Human-Animal Studies at the University of Roehampton

Bio: Garry took his first degree at the University of East Anglia in 1974 and was awarded his PhD in anthropology at the University of Wales, Swansea in 1982 for his thesis on bullfighting in Andalusia, Spain. He has lectured in anthropology at the Universities of East Anglia, St Andrews and Swansea. Between 1986 and 1996 he worked as a researcher / producer for television documentary programmes and made films on foxhunting (this won the Prix d’Italia, in the television cultural documentary category, in 1999) , bullfighting, religious movements in India, American football, Chinese exercise systems, social and cultural change in Spain, personal relationships in the UK, suicides in the River Thames, and the life of a foreign correspondent. He joined Roehampton in 1996.

Research interests: The main focus of Garry’s research is that of human-animal relationships and he has written on bullfighting, cockfighting, zoos and human-wolf relationships. For the past few years he has been conducting anthropological fieldwork on foxhunting in England and he is now writing a book on the culture(s) and meaning(s) of foxhunting. His other main research projects include the experiences and activities of sports hunters, taxidermised hunting trophies, conservation and human-wildlife conflicts.

Most significant work: His 1994 book Bullfight, based on his PhD dissertation, was the first ethnographic account of the event and its cultural setting. It is widely considered to be a classic in the field of human-animal studies. In it Garry explores all aspects of the world of bullfighting, from the breeding and raising of fighting bulls to the performances of men and bulls in the arena. He has now embarked on a re-study, together with Spanish anthropological colleagues, of the event from the new perspectives of the multi-disciplinary field of Human-Animal Studies.

Latest project: Signs stating ‘Do not feed the animals’ are ubiquitous in zoos, national parks and urban spaces. They stress that uncontrolled feeding by people can affect animal health, alter wild animal behaviour and create public hygiene and nuisance issues. However, humans appear to have a deep-rooted disposition to feed animals. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, as part of an interdisciplinary team led by Naomi Sykes (University of Exeter), Garry and his colleagues will look at our long history of relationships with animals and undertake a cross-cultural investigation to uncover the roots of animal feeding and critique the benefits/risks for all concerned. Particularly, the project will consider the hypothesis that animal domestication itself was driven by the human penchant for animal feeding and that this process is not just continuing but accelerating, with consequences for global human-animal-environmental health. Garry will be responsible for the anthropological aspects of the project.

A webinar introducing the project is below:

Did you know…?

  • that Garry was gored by a bull during a local fiesta in Spain.
  • that he, and a BBC film crew, were invited to share mint tea and pistachios with a Taliban military unit.
  • that he was awarded his wings and honorary membership of the Parachute Brigade of the Spanish army.



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