Australasian Animal Studies Association

Dr Muhammad Kavesh

DECRA Fellow, Anthropology

Australian National University

Profile Picture
Research interests / activities

Dr Muhammad Kavesh is an Australian Research Council's Discovery Early Career Research Award fellow, affiliated with the School of Culture, History, and Language, at the Australian National University. He is currently working on two research projects. Spy Pigeons: Contested Ethics of Hospitality and Hostility in South Asia critically contrasts Jacques Derrida's philosophy of hospitality with the writing of Punjabi poet, Waris Shah (Heer-Ranjha), to explore the ethics of more-than-human hospitality (specifically to alleged "spy" pigeons) at the India-Pakistan border. Kavesh is undertaking this work at the University of Toronto under the guidance of Prof Naisargi Dave.

The second project Donkey Politics: Everyday Work, Livelihoods, and Changing Values along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor explores how China’s mega BRI projects shape the everyday life of millions of people in host countries. In particular, his project examines China’s soaring demand for Pakistan’s donkeys through CPEC for developing a Chinese traditional medicine, ejiao, and investigates how this presents multiple challenges for the economy, employment, and social values of marginalised populations in Pakistan. This study expects to develop a culturally grounded counter-narrative to China's BRI through a critical examination of transformations in human-donkey relationships in a rapidly changing Pakistan.

Kavesh is the author of Animal Enthusiasms: Life Beyond Cage and Leash in Rural Pakistan (Routledge 2021, part of Rebecca Cassidy and Garry Marvin series "Multispecies Anthropology: New Ethnographies). The book is based on two-year ethnographic fieldwork (conducted between 2008-2018) and explores cultural and gendered explanations of animal sports (pigeon flying, cockfighting, and dogfighting) in rural Pakistan. Kavesh also co-edited a special journal issue, A Sensory approach for Multispecies Anthropology, for the Australian Journal of Anthropology (TAJA). Kavesh's other writings have appeared in South Asia, Society & Animal, The Australian Journal of Anthropology, and Pakistan Journal of Historical Studies, among other outlets.

Kavesh has co-convened panels at the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting; Royal Anthropological Institute's annual conference; and the Australian Anthropological Society's annual conference.

Kavesh's teaching experience includes convening courses such as "The Making of South Asia (2018)", "Culture and Modernity in Asia (2019)", and "Anthropology and Technology in India (2020)". He also carries professional work experience working with multiple humanitarian organizations in Islamabad (Pakistan) on the UN, European Union, and DFID projects.


Muhammad A. Kavesh, 2023, Face-to-face with the (Animal) Other: An Invitation to Decolonize the Anthropology of Pakistan. American Ethnologist, Vol 50, no. 3.

Muhammad A. Kavesh, 2023, Contested Flights: The Perplexity of Intruding “Spy Pigeons” at the India-Pakistan Border, Journal of Asian Studies, Vol 82, no. 2, pp. 26–35.

Muhammad A. Kavesh, Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt and Rajendra Adhikari, 2023, Women and Plant Entanglements: Pulses Commercialization and Care Relations in Punjab, Pakistan. Oxford Development Studies, DOI:

Muhammad Kavesh, 2023, Donkey Trade: Challenges to Sustaining Mutualism in Rural Pakistan. Anthropology Today, Vol 39, no. 1, pp. 19–22.

Natasha Fijn, Catie Gressier, and Muhammad A. Kavesh, 2023, Anthropology of Mutualism. Anthropology Today, Vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 1–2.

Muhammad A. Kavesh, 2023, Mutualistic Self Alteration: Human-Pigeon Assemblages in Rural Pakistan, in Jean Paul Baldacchino & Christopher Houston eds. “A Time to Change. Anthropological Investigations in Modes of Self-Alteration”, Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, Chap. 10.

Natasha Fijn and Muhammad A. Kavesh, Towards a Multisensorial Engagement with Animals, in Phillip Vannini ed. “Routledge Companion of Sensory Ethnography,” Routledge: New York and London.

Kavesh, M. A. (2021) “Animal Enthusiasms: Life Beyond Cage and Leash in Rural Pakistan,” Routledge: London and New York.

Kavesh, M. A. (2021) “Sensuous Entanglements: A Critique of cockfighting conceived as ‘cultural text’” Senses and Society, Vol 16, No. 2.

Kavesh, M. A. (2021) “The Flight of the Soul: Understanding the Self in Rural Pakistan,” The Australian Journal of Anthropology, Vol 31, No. SI1.

Fijn, N. & Kavesh, M. A. (2021). “Sense-Making in More-than-human World,” The Australian Journal of Anthropology, Vol 31, No. SI1.

Narayan, K. & Kavesh, M. A. (2019) “Priceless Pursuits: Following Enthusiasm in North India and Pakistan,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies (Vol 42, No. 4, pp. 711-725)

Kavesh, M. A. (2019) “Dog fighting: Performing Masculinity in Rural South Punjab, Pakistan,” Society and Animal, Journal of Human-Animal Studies, (Vol 27, No. 2, pp. 1-19)

Kavesh, M. A. (2018) "From Passion of Kings to Pastimes of the People: Pigeon Flying, Cockfighting, and Dogfighting in South Asia,” Pakistan Journal of Historical Studies, Indiana University Press, USA (Vol 3, No. 1, pp. 61-83).

Potential areas for research supervision
Animal sport; multispecies anthropology; gender and masculinity; environmental humanities