Document Type


Publication Date



Department of Anthropology


Department of Global Studies


This paper analyzes how a herd of feral cattle emerged in the core zone of Ukraine’s Danube Biosphere Reserve and why it still exists despite numerous challenges to the legality of its presence there. Answering these questions requires an analytical approach that begins from the premise that animals, plants, substances, documents, and technologies are active participants in making social and political worlds rather than passive objects of human intervention and manipulation. Drawing together insights from multispecies ethnography, animal geography, amphibious anthropology, and studies of nature protection in former Soviet republics, the author argues that the feral cattle exist because they are part of an amphibious multispecies assemblage in which relations among cattle, elements of the delta’s wetland ecologies, legal norms, and the Reserve managers’ documentation practices have aligned to create an autonomous space for cattle to dwell with minimal human intervention.


This article was originally published in Canadian Slavonic Papers, DOI: 10.1080/00085006.2018.1473669