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itself have no easy end to its compass, but at the same time we are aware that there are
good reasons—conceptual, empirical, perhaps political and ethical—for needing a
limit beyond which we are not prepared to extend the label of 'animal'. Whatever,
we would certainly still acknowledge the need for geographers to take seriously
plants and organisms, and especially viruses, if necessary in other subfields of
geographical study. 11
Answers to such questions can never really be fully decided, and so it seems
sensible to allow the 'what is an animal?' question to remain partially open. A
human-geographical approach to animals should also be alert to the differing ways
in which this question is answered within different human societies, as tied into
their particular economic, political, social, cultural and psychological horizons.
Whether the humans involved be primatologists in Japan (Haraway 1989), fishers in
Iceland (Einarsson 1993), Mende villagers of Sierra Leone (Richards 1993) or
African-American women in Los Angeles (Wolch, Brownlow and Lassiter, this
volume), understandings of what comprises an animal will be accepted tacitly, and
sometimes even made explicit, but will be formulated more or less differently in each
case. In other words, there will be a complex geography to these answers, and a new
animal geography must be interested in these classificatory variations across the
regions, localities and sites of the world.
To accept this relativity, however, is not to overlook the ways in which what
come to be regarded as legitimate knowledges about animals are constructed and
contested. For example, the natural sciences have for some time been regarded as the
legitimate and primary form of knowledge in many societies, Western and non-
Western (but see Waley, this volume). These sciences have shown themselves to be
very effective in manipulating matter and in helping to develop productive
relations, at least since the late nineteenth century (Jacobs 1997), and it has been
argued that the centre of production has now become the scientific laboratory
(Latour 1983). Such sciences, specifically the biological sciences, have often
dovetailed with strains of philosophising about the agency of animals, creating in
the process rigid orthodoxies regarding how distinctions should be drawn between
humans and animals, and within the animal 'kingdom' itself. In comparison to
these sciences and philosophies, lay and 'indigenous' knowledges (or ethno-
sciences), whether developed by the peoples of non-Western countries or by the
'lower classes' of Western countries, have long been derided by both dominant
Western scientific cultures and the 'rational' institutions which adopt their logics as
a guide and model. Yet in recent years there has been a growing interest in, and
appreciation of, these 'other' forms of knowledge that have been for so long
undervalued during phases of imperialism and (neo-)colonialism. This change has
emerged partly from environmental movements and related anti-development
organisations and politics (Leff 1995; Shiva 1989; Watts 1998), and one
consequence has been a new basket of ideas for thinking about the status and
character of animals (Baudrillard 1994:133-134). Ingold (1994a), among others,
argues that people in the developed world can learn much about different relations
with animals from hunter-gatherer cultures, while a commentator like Shepard
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