Culture Magazine

Animals R Us & We R Them

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
"...there are more captive tigers living in the state of Texas alone than wild specimens running free anywhere else on the planet."
Social Science Information has a special issue, June 2013; 52 (2), on the shared lives of humans and animals. Here's the full abstract of one of the articles:
In the (bleary) eye of the tiger: An anthropological journey into jungle backyards 
David Jaclin 
Université de Montréal and Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, ParisDavid Jaclin, Department of Communication, University of Montreal, CP 6128, succursale Centre-ville, Montreal, QC H3C 3J7, Canada. Email: [email protected] 
Abstract: North America shelters a growing population of so-called ‘exotic animals’. If the phenomenon is not recent, it now fuels a considerable black market. Jungle backyards compose a non-negligible (yet often neglected) part of some modern ecological landscapes. This article explores problematical situations emerging from these shared humanimal lives. It presents the first results of a multi-species ethnography and examines the prevalence of what I call beastness – an antique commerce amid humans and animals that reveals not only utilitarian purposes, but also relational entanglements. Such a commerce feeds a sizeable economy and exerts major selective pressures (both biological and cultural) on organisms and their environment. For instance, there are more captive tigers living in the state of Texas alone than wild specimens running free anywhere else on the planet. From a strictly statistical point of view, the average tiger is no longer the tiger we imagine. Not wild anymore but neither quite domesticated, some animals – pioneers, in a sense – shuffle traditional taxonomical and ontological conceptions. Through biographical material, I reflect on adaptive responses as well as on zoological potentialities developed by this always-evolving bestiary. Providing serious case studies to further debates dealing with bio–eco–conservation, I discuss the influence of informational and communicational processes crystallized by some of our contemporary crossed becomings.
* * * * *
This general topic is relevant to a number of posts I've done on animation, including many of my Dumbo posts. More specifically:
Dumbo Interlude: The Bear that Wasn'tFunny Animals: Notes on Humans in Metaphysical DragElephants in Cartoons: Tripping the Elephant Electric
See also Evolutionary Alienation, Where'd the Animals Go?, Ratatouille, A Quick Note on Man, Vermin, and Food, and this little snippet on Walt Disney, He has given animals souls. 

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