Geoscience Reference
In-Depth Information
The deeply complex pattern which is human—non-human relations has a
number of implications which need to be addressed. First, it presents a 'starting-
point' or 'ground' from where, or upon which, it is extremely difficult to build or to
impose abstracted, universalised prescriptive or descriptive accounts of the ethics of
human—animal relations. Thus approaches which deal with this geography of
being, such as Lynn (1998a, 1998b), seem necessary, and perhaps within the
richness of encounter there are forms of human—animal relations which can be
narrated as fresh perspectives on issues of animal ethics, rights and welfare. Second,
the incredible ethical unevenness embedded in the complex patterning of human—
animal relations needs much more frank narration. Third, in particular it is the
spaces which are customarily closed off from conventional ethical gaze which need
urgent consideration. For example, Weston (1999:189) states, '[as] far as I know,
there are no worked-out ethical defences of factory farming; it is hard to escape the
conclusion that it is a practice sustained by silent collusion, by the “wish not to
know”.' The development of a geography of human—non-human relations, and
exploring the ethical dimensions of such a geography, is an extensive multi-
dimensional project, which, given current concerns for environmental integrity,
environmental ethics and reconnecting the natural and social realms within social
theory, is likely to feature prominently across a range of disciplines.
As well as making a case for the development of a geography of human—animal
relations, this chapter offers three more specific contributions to this endeavour.
The first is a view of ethics, which, extracted rather perfunctorily from the work of
Levinas, argues for seeing all encounters, and the space(s) of all encounters, as
ethically charged, even if they fall outside the realm of established ethical
consideration. The second considers how humans often relate to animals not as
individual others, but as part of some form of collective. This is a key mechanism
underpinning the spatialisation of ethical encounters between humans and non-
humans which needs thinking through. Third, with the notion of a geography of
(un)ethical encounters established, three types of spatiality are briefly 'opened up',
with the aim of raising some key questions and showing how such geographies may
look and why their examination is needed.
Non-human geographies and ethics
It hardly needs saying that human relationships with animals have been and remain
deeply complex and shifting. They range from the sublime to the obscene, and are
twisted and folded into all kinds of paradoxical, ironic, tragic and also cathartic forms.
That the differing ways in which humans and animals interact are often spatially
constructed is evident in that many typologies of animals have a spatial basis: for
example, farm animals, zoo animals, laboratory animals, wild animals, domestic pets,
and so forth. Differing cultural spaces, wherein animals can be conceived of as
either 'in place' or 'out of place', also vary widely in their relations with non-
humans, and thus a compound differential of spatialised ethical relations is formed.
The complexity of human—non-human relations, coupled with the general
Search WWH ::

Custom Search