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of the journal Society and Animals (Wolch and Philo 1998) introducing a
geographical perspective to a wider, inter-disciplinary audience. 7
This history of animal geography and account of an emerging new animal
geography have already been reviewed in some detail elsewhere (Philo 1995: 658-
664; Philo and Wolch 1998:104-108), and there is no need for us to cover this
ground any further. Suffice to say that the emphasis now is indeed on excavating the
kinds of networks of human—animal relations sketched out in the opening
examples, tracing their 'topologies' (Whatmore and Thorne 1998), and showing
how the spaces and places involved make a difference to the very constitution of the
relations in play. The present volume should also be seen as a sustained attempt to
contribute further to this small, but we would argue significant, corpus of research
and scholarship.
One of the things a new animal geography seeks to do, moreover, is to follow how
animals have been socially defined, used as food, labelled as pets or pests, as useful
or not, classed as sentient, as fish, as insect, or as irrational 'others' which are
evidently not human, by differing peoples in differing periods and worldly contexts.
It thereby endeavours to discern the many ways in which animals are 'placed' by
human societies in their local material spaces (settlements, fields, farms, factories,
and so on), as well as in a host of imaginary, literary, psychological and even virtual
spaces. It is thus not only the physical presence of animals which is of importance
here, since animals also exist in our human imaginings—in the spoken and written
spaces of folklore, nursery rhymes, novels and treatises; in the virtual spaces of
television or cinema, in cartoons and animation—while they are also used as
symbols to sell a huge variety of commodities and products (Rowland 1973;
Wilbert 1993). All such imaginings of animals, as bound up with human uses made
of them, must be seen as affected deeply by the form of 'animal—human mode of
production' underlying the specific society in question, whether it be hunter-
gatherer, feudal, industrial, capitalist, post-industrial or whatever (Tapper 1994).
Such an orientation, looking at how animals are imagined or represented in
human societies, is only an element of a larger picture. If we concentrate solely on
how animals are represented, the impression is that animals are merely passive
surfaces on to which human groups inscribe imaginings and orderings of all kinds.
In our view, it is also vital to give credence to the practices that are folded into the
making of representations, and—at the core of the matter—to ask how animals
themselves may figure in these practices. This question duly raises broader concerns
about non-human agency, about the agency of animals, and the extent to which we
can say that animals destabilise, transgress or even resist our human orderings,
including spatial ones. Noske's (1989:169) query, which she frames in terms of
anthropology, can hence be paraphrased for geography: that is, can a 'real'
geography of animals be developed, rather than an anthropocentric geography of
humans in relation to animals? It is around precisely such themes that our collection
of essays is composed, as we will now elaborate in the remainder of this introductory
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