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knowledge or 'wisdom' as less valuable than the more general formulations of the
biological sciences. (A more specific account of such a struggle over 'natural'
knowledge, rooted in the English Broadlands, is rehearsed in Matless, this volume.)
Notwithstanding this endemic hierarchy of which knowledges are to be valued, it
can still be observed that lay peoples or popular cultures do generate their own
knowledges, and that these can differ from, and even oppose, expert and elite
science. Moreover, these knowledges may embrace understandings of animals which
end up contesting powerful orthodoxies (Cooter and Pumfrey 1994:248-250),
while non-expert peoples may also use and interpret expert knowledges of animals in
ways running counter to what the popularisers of expert knowledges might wish. 13
Related to the conceptual placing of animals is also a strong human sense of the
proper places which animals should occupy physically. An important link in this
respect is the ecological concept of the 'niche', in which an organism is said to have
its own distinctive place within both biological classifications and worldly
environments, in which case the placement is envisaged as being not only conceptual
but also material (Kingsland 1991). 14 It is not only a science such as ecology that
embraces this double placement of animals, however, since many different forms of
human discourse—economic, political, social and cultural—include a strong
envisaging of both where animals are placed in the abstract 'scheme of things' and
where they should be found in the non-discursive spaces and places of the world.
Although it is now somewhat overused, we propose to press into service once again
Said's (1978:54-55, 71-72) famous term 'imaginative geography', and to suggest that
many human discourses contain within them a definite imaginative geography
serving to position 'them' (animals) relative to 'us' (humans) in a fashion that links a
conceptual 'othering' (setting them apart from us in terms of character traits) to a
geographical 'othering' (fixing them in worldly places and spaces different from
those that we humans tend to occupy). In fact, we wish to propose that there are a
number of overlapping imaginative geographies at work here, depending on exactly
whose imaginative projections are under consideration, exactly where in the world is
being talked about, exactly what kinds of animals are at stake, and so on.
For some people, as in the opening quote above from Lebowitz, the favoured
situation is one facilitating as much distance as possible between them and animals
of any sort. Unless said animals appear in the form of food, the suggestion is that
animals should definitely remain 'outside' the perimeter of human existence,
banished from the vicinity of everyday human life and work. It might be argued,
though, that many people (in Western societies at least) internalise a slightly more
complex baseline imaginative geography of animals—or at least of mammals—
which effectively maps increasing distance from humans on to changes in the sorts of
animals which should be present, implying that some species should properly be
proximate to us while others should properly be more remote. Thus, zones of
human settlement ('the city') are envisaged as the province of pets or 'companion
animals' (such as cats and dogs), zones of agricultural activity ('the countryside') are
envisaged as the province of livestock animals (such as sheep and cows), and zones
of unoccupied lands beyond the margins of settlement and agriculture ('the
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