July Book Discussion: Resolved

After deliberating about which book to read for the book discussion I am organizing for this month, I have chosen Animal Geographies: Place, Politics and Identity in the Nature-Culture Borderlands. Thank you, Adam, for the idea. I looked into this book to see if it would be good, and there’s a lot in there that would make for interesting discussion.

As this is a collection of articles, some of them might be less interesting than others. It’s not a light read, so if you want to lighten it a bit, I would say based on my reading so far that chapters five and  eleven could be skipped, and chapter one could be skimmed (but read page 1 because that’s awfully interesting).

The book looks a little pricey, and possibly out of print (only available used?), so check your library and Interlibrary Loan. Luckily, my library has a copy. (Google Books has about a third of the book.)

Please let me know if you plan to participate so we can coordinate meeting time. We will most likely use Skype, though if you live in D.C. we can also meet in person. It will be sometime in the last week of July (check this post for updates), and we will probably meet once or twice. If you want to discuss here, though, I will most likely post about how the real-time discussion goes, along with my thoughts on the book.

One of the key points of the book, from the preface:

Surely there must be spaces in which both animals and humans have authority, but they are neither in the dictatorial fascism of some forms of deep ecology or sociobiology, nor in the smug authoritarianism of anthropocentric humanism.

Here is the editorial review on Amazon.com:

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.

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~ by Louëlla on July 2, 2010.

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