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Animal Geographies


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Each year billions of animals are poisoned, dissected, displaced, killed for consumption, or held in captivity - usually for the benefit of humans. The animal world has never been under greater peril and this broad-ranging collection contributes to a much-needed, fundamental rethinking about our relation with it. Animal Geographies explores the diverse ways in which animals shape the formation of human identity. Essays on zoos and wolves, for example, reveal how animals figure in social constructions of race, gender, and nationality. From questions of identity and subjectivity, it moves to a consideration of the places where people and animals confront the realities of coexistence on an everyday basis, by way of case studies of species such as mountain lions and the golden eagle. It then examines the ways in which animals figure in the ongoing globalization of production and mass consumption - illustrated by essays on the US meatpacking industry and meat production in the Indian state of Rajasthan - and finally, takes up legal and ethical approaches to human-animal relations. Animal Geographies compels a profound rethinking of the nature of human-animal relations and offers a series of proposals for reconstituting this relationship on a progressive basis. Contributors: Kay Anderson, Glen Elder, Andrea Gullo, Unna Lassiter, William S. Lynn, Suzanne M. Michel, Chris Philo, James D. Proctor, Paul Robbins, Frances M. Ufkes, James L. Wescoat, Jr.


In the battle for dominance between humanity and nature, it seems there has never been room for compromise. It's time, say editors Wolch and Emel, to reevaluate our relationship with animals, to explore progressive models for a more completely integrated culture. The forcefully written essays within these 12 chapters address how humans relate as individuals to creatures (e.g., pets), the preservationist-vs.-capitalist conundrum (the spotted owl and logging), and agricultural industrialization fueled by the "lean-meat imperative." An eclectic group of scientists from the U.S., Australia and Britain cover many contexts, from zoos in Australia to slaughterhouses in New Delhi and public parks in Orange County, where cougars clash with nature lovers. Geographer Kay Anderson argues that Victorian-era zoos served a sociological function: animals in cages reinforced the barrier between the citizenry and the "lower orders," reinforcing the larger notion of colonization and even racial stereotyping. Jody Emel, geographer and animal rights activist, expounds on the annihilation of wolves in the American West as it supports social precepts of masculinity and virility. While these experts provide a knowledgeable global perspective, it is Green Mountain associate professor and geographer William S. Lynn's eloquent mapping of "geoethics" that completes the thesis: a geographically informed respect for all life, he says, ought to replace the view that animals exist solely for human benefit. (Dec.)

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