Placing Animals 1st Half

This book is so far, pretty enjoyable. Even though it covers things we have talked about before, the clear and specific details/examples make it interesting even when it is saying things I’ve heard before. I like that the chapters are very structured with the same sections reappearing in each chapter but concerning a different “type” of animal-human relationship. It reminds me a lot of Environment and Society but better written and animal-focused.The first and second chapters were very good for context. I’ve always had a hard time defining to myself what geography means and I liked that the author took the time to debunk stereotypes and show many different branches of geography. I didn’t know that there were four branches (Natural science, social science, mapping, and human-environment relationships) and it helps me understand more specifically what this entire course is about. And the three waves of animal geography is helpful historical context that we have never gotten before, even though we have read books on animals. I feel like this context would have helped in Eating Animals, but I am conflicted because it would also lessen the impact of his personal experience and description of the meat industry.

I really liked the little case studies on the specific animals that appear in each chapter. Even though its trying to be an introductory book, these specifics (and indeed the specific stories in the main text of the book) illustrate to me why a large number of people might be interested in learning more in depth about animal geography. Especially when reading, like the Camel blurb in chapter, you learn all the different aspects of a species you might not think of. Joe Camel, Camel wrestling, and Camel beauty contests are foreign to me, and while I think it is important to understand your own animal culture, both historically and spatially foreign animal understandings/practices should be highlighted because they debunk the idea that there is only one way we can relate to one/all types of animals.

The Pets chapter was a good one to start with because it is the most animal-human relationship to relate to for students. Thinking on both my own pets and the pets I met last week at dinner, there are definitely overall trends that emphasize and value pets in our society. I’ve always had a cat and from the way your son and daughter were talking they’ve always have had pets as well. This creates an almost necessary desire to live with an animal. However, while my dad is alright with a cat when I tell him I want to adopt pigeons in the future, he tell me that’s strange. I don’t understand why dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc. have a special status as pet animals. This chapter, especially with the economy section, where exotic pets were highlighted, made it seem arbitrary and somewhat economical dependent. I don’t like that people will pay outrageous amount to get and keep both standard and strange pets. But because of that thought, I came to understand pets as just another way to self-express in our culture. They say owners look like their pets, but that because people relate to their pets. I’m a low maintenance person and my family’s pets have never been to a pet salon and get cheap food. People who pay for their pet to look good, have good things, or have a pet that no one else has hope that same sentiment reflects back on themselves. They look good, have enough money to afford good things, or have a unique persona. As for my own desire for a pigeon, while it’s true that I think they are beautiful and have an undeserved bad reputation, I like to enjoy non-traditional things as well. I like to be somewhat unique and having a pigeon would show that to other people.

The working animal seems a lot more species focused and less-reliant on individual human whims. A much more complex system of interacts than simply living with an animal. Humans must actively train and interact with a “working” animal to get to “work”. While the author did a brilliant job with an overview of education, service and entertainment animals, I could see myself interested in a whole book on just this subject. Pet-like interactions also seem bound up in training and working with animals which makes it even more interesting since the human only gets some control over what specific animal they bond with. I want to see more specifics into more individual animals and humans and just more information on working animals in general. I think working animals have a very interesting relationship with humans that could not be fully explored here. Like how do the different reputation of different animal occupations affect the views of specific individual animals or a species in general?

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One Response to Placing Animals 1st Half

  1. […] Week 11, Mar 25-Urbanik: Placing Animals (first half of book) […]

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