Placing Animals Discussion Material


Animal Geography – “’the study of where, when, why and how nonhuman animals intersect with human societies’” (38)

  • space, place, scale, landscape, power
  • cultural, economic, ecological, ethical, historical, political
    • Animals are an integral part of humans’ lives in relation to food, social practices and belief systems.
    • Notions of right and wrong depend upon where you live.
  • archival, field research, mapping sciences

1st wave = cataloging species and evolutionary adaptations

2nd wave = focus on livestock’s interaction with human cultures and landscape

3rd wave = we are surrounded by animals in what we eat, wear, see, entertain ourselves with, earn money off of, share space with, etc.

Why is animal geography important?

  1. We are starting to realize humans are causing environmental problems through consumption and production (ex: clearing forests to feed livestock, greenhouse gases from livestock).
  2. The “modernist view” has led to separation of humans and nature.
  3. Animal rights (focus on ending animal practice) and animal welfare (focus on education and humane treatment) groups are becoming more and more active.
  4. We can better understand ourselves by understanding our relationships with other species (43).
    • “Indeed, Emel states that ’what it means to be human can never be determined without the animal other’ (92)…” (142).

“Indeed, Emel states that ‘what it means to be human can never be determined without the animal other’ (92)…” (142).

“…who and where you are as a human in the world shapes the type of interaction you have with different species” (3)

  • Have you noticed any differences in the interactions you have with animals in your hometown versus in this college town?

Table 1.1 Legal Definitions of “Animal” in the United States (7)

  • How do you define “animal”? Are there any words that stand out to you in this table?




Urbanik argues pets have a certain power over humans because, for example, they force humans into an exercise/play schedule (11).

“If you’re worried about making the transformation from a pet who is at its owner’s beck and call to one that reaches the dizzy heights of Top Dog, let me leave you with just one thought: if you saw two creatures and one of them pooped, and the other then carried the poop, who would you think was in charge?” (6). How to Be a Dog: Maxwell Woofington’s Guide to Living with Humans and Getting the Upper Paw

Hybridity – “everything is engaged in relations” (40) (ex: hybrid of human and technology, human and animal)

  • What are some examples of human-animal relationships? Does who has the power in that relationship shift depending on landscape?

“Estimates are that anywhere from five million to fifty million different species (all life-forms) can be found on earth, yet only around 1.8 million of these have been named and classified by taxonomists (Hickman et al. 2011)” (21).


Here is the latest Top 10 New Species by National Geographic.

Animals have certain “places” within society – pets vs. pests (60)

Pets and public spaces: “upending social norms” (62)


Cat park in Lima, Peru.

  • What are some examples of pet-related places in Delaware, and what do these reveal about the human-pet bond in our community?



Humans put animals to work in circuses, races, rodeos. Control of animals is viewed as a human skill and can serve as displays of dominance. Gambling and animal fighting are considered “sports” (81).

Another way humans “employ” animals is through draft animals (animals used for agriculture and transportation), service animals and therapy animals. It’s pretty ironic we’ve made dogs and dolphins responsible for our safety (rescue operations, bomb/mine detection), but many times we don’t take responsibility for their safety…

The locations of research laboratories — even at OWU — are often not advertised, which gives people less of a chance to ask about what is going on inside. Mice are treated differently depending on if they are a lab mouse vs. wild/endangered mouse vs. pet mouse.

  • “Why aren’t there animal research toys for children like there are farm toys, circus toys, rodeo toys, and so on?” (98)


Domestication can create a culture, for example, based on agriculture. The domestication process might incorporate economics, religion, and empathy/ kinship (33).


“…rural areas are changing from places of production to places of consumption” (122).

  • Do you think any of the local farms have, in a way, turned into “farm parks” where tourists can escape urban life?


People usually associate wildlife with “the pristine” (172) and believe wildlife has “its proper place” (170). Conservation can be more difficult in urban spaces that people don’t usually associate with wildlife (and in places like the Meadowlands…) (170).

  • Can you think of some examples besides gardens that serve as barriers separating homes and wildness? Are these barriers effective?
  • What constructions of the wild are presented through the below images?

An image advertising an outreach program at Ohio Wildlife Center.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 2.47.34 AM

An image from Sunrise Sanctuary.

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