Todd D’Andrea: Placing Animals Notes/Proj Update/Current Event

Placing Animals by Julie Urbanik

(pg. 8) ‘In essence, geography is concerned with why things are the way they are where they are.’

So far in my Geography studies at Ohio Wesleyan I have not heard this statement being used. I think it’s a very simplistic and overarching term that is helpful in describing the various fields within Geography. It is basically asking why are things how they are because of where they are. This makes me think of the Berkley school in the early 20 th century and their work theorizing the ‘cultural landscape’.’

(pg. 16) ‘We have, in the vast majority of intellectual thought since his time, continued to render animals as mute background noise to human action.’

Urbanik is here referring to Rene Descartes and his iconic statement of ‘I think, therefore I am.’ He concluded that since animals can’t speak and do not have souls that they are simply instinctively driven automatons. I agree with Urbanik in that up until recent years this view of animals has been the dominant theme. More and more however, as we see, animals are becoming key members of people’s families and are regarded at the level of humans. I personally believe that dogs for example do have souls and have capacities that far reach what we give them credit for.

(pg. 42) ‘So my power relationship with a zoo elephant gives me more control because the elephant is enclosed, but in the wild the elephant would have the power over me because of its physical strength.’

Read at first glance this is a fairly obvious statement, but it underlines some of the complexities that are being described in this chapter; namely with hybridity and agency. These power dynamics are ever changing as the way in which people influence animal species and the way in which those species influence us. Given the right circumstance the control and power of an animal can be vastly different than the authority of a human.

(pg. 51) ‘We have so distorted the domesticated dog from its wolf ancestors that Tuan argues that this must be seen as the most brutal kind of domination.’

This is such an insightful statement. I have never thought about dog breeding in this way given the desirable traits that many of the dogs I love have. For example, the American bulldog which has the stout, bulky front torso that makes it so recognizable. We forget that many of these animals have persistent joint issues and require long term medical treatment. I think what makes this issue less prominent is that the breeding has been done slowly over the centuries so the onset of this concern has been subtle compared to what we see in the case of people who abuse dogs for sport.

(pg. 56) ‘Hindu religious texts have a history of reverence for cows with Lord Krishna, a major god, often appearing as a cow and with language that speaks of cows as “mothers” because of their ability to nurture humans with their milk. No such reverence or treatment exists for any animal in the Christian or Muslim tradition.’

I have always found this to be very interesting. I think the start of this reverence naturally comes from its association with a major god and then the attribute of a cow with its life sustaining, nurturing milk. In reflecting on a cow I can see how just in my mental images they can be revered as motherly as they feed multiple calves and provide for their health. I agree that there is no known animal associated with Christianity in this sense of a “mother”. I think the closest thing to this symbolically would be the metaphoric relationship of the ‘lamb’, in which Jesus was the “sacrificial lamb”.

(pg. 78) ‘During the time of the Roman Empire, the Catholic Church banned autopsies, so thephysician Galen began doing dissections and autopsies on animals- both alive and dead.’

I’m not sure how I feel about the banned autopsy edict that the Roman Empire enforced. In one sense I can see how out of respect for a human body this would not be allowed, but on the other once you die, your body is basically a carcass anyway. You don’t know what is occurring because you are dead. Also, much of the medical advancement that we as a society have made are the result of human autopsies.

The second part of this statement is troubling to me. Was Galen able to just turn off any sense of empathy for these animals that he was dissecting why they were alive? This just seems so cruel and ridiculous. I would hope that these animals were somehow sedated so that they would not have to suffer through so much pain.

(pg. 93) ‘. . .the construction is that sacrificing some number of animals to lifetimes of cages and captivity is acceptable in order to educate humans about the need to keep other members of the same species free and living in the wild.’

This reminds me of the old adage of, ‘Sometimes you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet.’ The idea that there is a sacrifice of the individual for the greater good is justifiable for the collective whole. This concept is applicable to many areas of life that are complicated and gray. In this sense the end justifies the means. I do not agree with this argument because the pain and suffering of one animal is not measurable to the scientific gains of the research community.

(pg. 167) ‘Much of the politics around geographies of human-wildlife relations have to do with who gets to use, protect, or otherwise control wildlife for preservation, conservation, or use as a resource.’

I think much of the motive for scholars and researchers in human and wildlife relations is based on this statement above. It is the use of animals and their commodification that is the goal and desire of those who can best turn a profit and further research in the name of the dollar. This excerpt is filled with the domination and control of humans over wildlife and the way in which they influence and manipulate their existence.


(Source: PETA)

Project Update:

No further updates.

Thomas is continuing further research into expanding our homeless project into the city of Columbus.

Current Event Article:

‘USDA finds violations at UTMB animal research laboratory’ violations-at- utmb-animal- research-laboratory

In a February report that was recently made public, APHIS inspectors detail the deaths of25 guinea pigs. The animals were found dead in a cage during the study, and those deaths were not reported to the attending veterinarian in a timely manner (Sweeney, 2016). Other cases of neglect at this facility included the abuse of sheep and monkeys.


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