Reading for Placing Animals by Urbanik Part. 2

In the opening of the fourth chapter, Beasts of Burden, the main focus as Urbanik illustrates is looking at human-animal relationships in terms of service oriented (76). There are three categorical breakdowns: Animals used for educational purposes, which include dissection, they are used for human instruction. The next category is the entertainment animals, these animals are purely used for the satisfaction and pleasure of humans, and this would include such activities like petting zoos. I personally believe with this section in particular, that a majority of the activities associated in this group, have some kind of connection to cruelty. The final category service oriented, typically draft animals, utilized for their service, airport security dogs, and therapy animals. As demonstrated by the diagram on the next page these categories overlap (77). In the ethical subsection, Urbanik talks about the “humouse” an imagined combination of human and mouse organism (94). I found this a bit disturbing and the “humonkey” was also rejected. I see a potential “planet of the apes” happening or worse “planet of the nibblers”.

In Chapter 5: Down on the Farm, offers the debate and controversy on what we should be allowed to consume in terms of animal products. The different methods of farming, especially the practice of pastoralism where humans and animals move to find grass for grazing, has been mentioned in my cultural anthropology class a lot this semester. An argument of fur farming is by breeding the animals on the farms they are sustaining the wild population (111). I think this thinking is twisted and so wrong. And the fact that people actually buy this” full of crap” statement is absurd.

In the following chapter, Into the Wild, the main focus of this discussion is “the geography of human-wildlife relations to see where and how geographers have explored this key umbrella category” (138). In the historical geography section of the chapter Urbanik makes a reference to the “wolves” section of the book Environment in Society, by Paul Robbins, John Hintz, and Sarah A. Moore (139). I thought it was more than a coincidence that we read their book right before this one. She looked at the effects of the elk and the landscape due to the reintroduction of the wolves to Yellowstone National Park. Zoogeomorphology is referred to as “ the study of how nonhuman animals alter the landscape” (140). Urbanik gives the example of the beavers role in building dams leads to the establishment of new wetlands. In the ethical section of this chapter, the “transspecies urban theory” is presented. Created by Wolch, West, and Gaines, this theory is needed to understand the following issues: “how urbanization impacts wildlife, how and why residents react to wildlife the way they do, how city building practices shape urban ecologies, and how urban planning/policy can better incorporate wild animals” (169). They also claim that if the society decides to cooperate and commit to biodiversity and wildlife conservation and protection, if should not just stop when you get to the edge of the city.

In the conclusion chapter, Urbanik, she discusses the past, what we have done, where we are headed in the future and practice and live following the ideals of animal geography. The author also discusses briefly the key discussion points to retain from each chapter (183). Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book, I have never read anything that focuses on animal geography and the animal-human relationships that exist in multiple. I learned a lot, and was able to make connections to previous pieces I have read in not only this class, but also others from the social sciences division, like anthropology. By far this was one of my favorites we have read thus far.

The “Humouse”, a mouse injected with human immune cells.

The “Humonkey” is next.


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