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animals, geography of

  Animal geography is a newly coined term used to describe a body of work in human geography which has taken shape since the mid-1990s and is concerned with the material well-being and cultural meaning of non-human animals in the geographies of social life. A landmark in the emergence of this new research focus was the publication of a special issue of the journal Society and Space in 1995 which makes the case for \'bring(ing) the animals back in\' to the compass of human geography (Wolch and Emel, 1995, p. 632). The issue is a controversial one because it challenges entrenched assumptions about the status of animals in modern society and social science and the exclusively human terms in which these have come to be defined. At its most radical, then, animal geography opens up the \'human\' in human geography to unprecedented critical scrutiny (Elder et al., 1998; Whatmore, 1999).

Animals have been long relegated to the margins of geographical study, as components in the composition of biogeographical systems or as resources in the social organization of food production. In neither case do animals emerge as active agents fashioning the environments they inhabit or as experiential subjects in the social relationships which bind them in different ways to people. The partial exception to this generalization is a fragile and unfashionable strand of work at the interface between archaeology, anthropology and traditional cultural geography which has been concerned with the process of domestication and the production of cultural landscapes (see, for example, Sauer, 1952; Donkin, 1989; see also cultural ecology). The animal geography that is now emerging picks up some of these threads but, as Anderson\'s review (1997) of the domestication literature suggests, it is framed by the more critical intellectual impulses of post-structuralism and broader shifts in the social and political landscape associated with postmodernity. In this sense, it has been described as a \'thought experiment\' (Philo, 1995: 67) to see what happens when animals are treated as another, radically different, social group.

Amongst the several lines of enquiry so far addressed by this new animal geography, the influence of these broader intellectual and social impulses can be traced in three main ways.

First, in studies of the social practices and meanings which have shaped relationships between humans and other animals in different times and places (Ingold, 1988). Attention here is focused on the changing geographies of human and animal interaction. For example, the living spaces of \'wild\' creatures which have been refashioned by a range of social practices including their systematic eradication from areas of human settlement by hunting (Emel, 1995) and captive display in the exhibition spaces of city zoos (Anderson, 1995; see also wilderness).

Second, in research attuned to the awakening of wider social concerns about the treatment of animals and the growth of new political movements around animal liberation, welfare and protection (e.g. Whatmore and Thorne, 1998). Working against the analytical grain which is content to treat animals as things, such work endeavours to extend the compass of ethical concern beyond \'humanity\' and explore more environmental, or biocentric, conceptions of moral community (Lynn, 1998; see also ethics, geography and).

Thirdly, animal geography has been encouraged by developments in social theory which acknowledge a wider range of actors and their effects than people in the practical business of everyday social life (see, in particular, actor-network theory and non-representational theory). Here, categorical distinctions between humans, animals and machines are seen to be uncertain as their properties are blurred by a proliferation of hybrid entities and networks, from genetically modified organisms to the simulant creatures of virtual reality (Luke, 1998; see also cyborgs). (SW)

References Anderson, K. 1995: Culture and nature at the Adelaide Zoo: at the frontiers of \'human\' geography. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 20 (3): 275-94. Anderson, K. 1997: A walk on the wildside: a critical geography of domestication. Progress in Human Geography 21 (4): 463-8 5. Donkin, R. 1989: The Muscovy Duck, Cairina Moschata Domestica: origins, dispersals and associated aspects of the geography of domestication. Rotterdam: AA Balkema. Elder, G., Wolch, J. and Emel, J. 1998: Race, place and the bounds of humanity. Society and Animals 6/2: 183-202. Emel, J. 1995: Are you man enough, big and bad enough? Ecofeminism and wolf eradication in the USA. Society and Space 13 (4): 707-34. Ingold, T. ed., 1988: What is an animal? London: Routledge. Luke, T. 1998: Cyborg ecologies. London: Routledge. Lynn, W. 1998: Animals, ethics and geography. In J. Wolch and J. Emel, eds, Animal geographies. London: Verso, ch. 13. Philo, C. 1995: Animals, geography and the city: notes on inclusions and exclusions. Society and Space 13 (4): 655-8 1. Sauer, C. 1952: Seeds, spades, hearths and herds. American Geographical Society; reprinted in 1969, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Whatmore, S. and Thorne, L. 1998: Wild(er)ness: reconfiguring the geographies of wildlife. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS 23 (4). Whatmore, S. 1999: Rethinking the \'human\' in human geography. In D. Massey, J. Allen and P. Sarre, eds, Human geography today. Cambridge: Polity Press. Wolch, J. and Emel, J., eds, 1995: Special issue an \'animal geographies\'. Society and Space 13 (4).

Suggested Reading Wolch J. and J. Emel, eds, 1998: Animal geographies. London: Verso.



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