The human-chicken interactions Project

What are the cultural and scientific perceptions of the interactions between humankind and chickens? The Arts and Humanities Research Council, in the United Kingdom, aims through a three-yars long project to find the answers.

Chickens (also known as ‘domestic fowl’) are native to South East Asia but, today, they have a worldwide distribution. Their diffusion is almost entirely due to human-assisted transportation and, as such, their natural history is a reflection of human history.

Considerable attention has been given to charting the chicken’s eastward spread from Asia, through the Pacific islands to the Americas; however, the species’ diffusion to the west, through India, the Near East, Mediterranean and northern Europe, has been almost completely neglected: no genetic work has been undertaken and the timing and circumstances of their spread remains poorly understood.

Given the social significance of this species (whether as a provider of foodstuffs, their widespread use in cock-fighting or within magic and medicine) and their growing popularity as domestic pets, a detailed analysis of their natural and cultural history in the West is long overdue.

Such a study has the potential to inform on poultry-borne diseases, food security and environmental ethics, issues of particular importance at a time when billions of people rely on mass-produced chickens as a source of sustenance.

This project brings together researchers from a wide range of countries and disciplines – archaeology, anthropology, (art) history, biology, cultural geography, ecology, human-animal studies, philosophy, theology – to examine the social, cultural and environmental impact of this important but under-researched species.

Source: Arts and Humanities Research Council


The "Sustainable Meats" Project aims to identify the key topics, the state of knowledge and the most recent technical scientific trends, with the aim of showing that meat production and consumption can be sustainable, both for health and for the environment.