Geoscience Reference
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'Proper places'; or specifying 'animal spaces'
I do not like animals. Of any sort. I don't even like the idea of animals.
Animals are no friends of mine. They are not welcome in my house.
They occupy no space in my heart. Animals are off my list…. I might
more accurately state that I do not like animals, with two exceptions.
The first being in the past tense, at which point I like them just fine, in
the form of nice crispy spareribs and Bass Weejun penny loafers. And
the second being outside, by which I mean not merely outside, as in
outside my house, but genuinely outside, as in outside in the woods, or
preferably outside in the South American jungle. This is, after all, only
fair. I don't go there; why should they come here?
(Fran Lebowitz in Metcalf 1986:16)
A key concern for the new animal geography, and particularly for this volume, is the
geographical conception of place in relation to animals (see also Philo and Wolch
1998:111-113). There are two main senses of place to be explored here, between
which there is a close, sometimes inseparable, connection. The first refers to the
'place' which a particular animal, a given species of animal or even non-human
animals in general can be said to possess in human classifications or orderings of the
world. We can follow de Certeau (1984:117), who argues as follows:
A place (lieu) is the order (of whatever kind) in accord with which elements
are distributed in relationships of coexistence. It thus excludes the possibility
of two things being in the same location (place) . The law of the 'proper' rules
in the place: the elements taken into consideration are beside one another,
each situated in its own 'proper' and distinct location, a location it defines. A
place is thus an instantaneous configuration of positions. It implies an
indication of stability.
The emphasis is on the setting up of classificatory schemes wherein each identified
thing has its own 'proper place' relative to all other things, and can be neatly
identified, delimited and positioned in the relevant conceptual space so as to be
separate from, and not overlapping with, other things there identified, delimited
and positioned. Such a conceptual placing of animals in the wider 'scheme of
things'—such a specifying ('species-identifying') of animals—reflects an impulse
with deep roots and wide cultural diversity (Foucault 1970). These go back to both
pre-Neolithic totemic societies (Shepard 1993) and biblical classifications of the
different beasts (as in Leviticus: see Sibley 1995:37), recur in ancient and medieval
'great chain of being' thinking (Lovejoy 1936), and then reappear in Linneaus's
Systema naturae and countless more recent tabular representations of the natural
world (Frangsmyr 1983; Spary 1996). The result of such classifications, systems and
tables is to fix animals in a series of abstract spaces, 'animal spaces', which are
cleaved apart from the messy time—space contexts, or concrete places, in which
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