Placing Animals by Julie Urbanik offers many thought provoking arguments over what roles animals have played in geography over time. My critique for the early chapters are that there were simply too many lists. “3 things that define geography” and then the different waves of geography of animals, and each list came with caveats… Maybe I was just trying to read it too fast, but it felt a bit cumbersome.
However, the book came with many interesting thoughts. On page 35, the book talks about how women and the breastfeeding of animals. This was an incredible thought to me, as I have never heard of that. Urbanik presents research which suggests that this act may have lead to domestication. That actually blew my mind. I know that dogs are like domesticated wolves, but have never heard of how that came to be. Of course, there were many other reasons for breastfeeding, such as raising animals to be eaten or sacrificed. But this was a really cool reveal I had never heard of before.
I was a bit upset looking at the production/consumption maps on pages 112-113. I have been learning a lot about industrial farms lately, and these maps provide a visual for just how much we consume – the US is the only country which is both a top 20 consumer and producer for cattle, poultry, and dairy. With the problems that farms create… I have come to the conclusion that we consume way too much.
Additionally, I particularly liked the historical geographies section of Chapter 6: Into the Wild. It gives brief descriptions of histories of several animals including sparrows, crows, wolves, and turkeys. Overall, I found the book to be pretty interesting.