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Animal agents? Historiography, theory and the history of science in the Anthropocene

  • AMANDA REES (a1)
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Abstract
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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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1 Johnson, Walter, ‘On agency’, Journal of Social History (2003) 37, pp. 113124 , 115.

2 For example, Bourdieu's, Pierre An Outline of the Theory of Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977 .

3 Pickering, Andrew (ed.), Science as Practice and Culture, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992 ; Pickering, , ‘The mangle of practice: agency and emergence in the sociology of science’, American Journal of Sociology (1993) 99, pp. 559598 .

4 Gell, Alfred, Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998 ; Gosden, Chris, ‘What do objects want?’, Journal of Archaeological Theory and Method (2005) 12, pp. 193211 ; Bennet, Jane, Vibrant Ecology: A Political Ecology of Things, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010 .

5 Johnson, op. cit. (1).

6 A review of the animal studies literature is well beyond the scope of this Introduction. Ritvo's, HarrietOn the animal turn’, Daedalus (Fall 2007) 136(4), pp. 118122 , gives a short outline of the growth of interest in animals. For a historical perspective see Brantz, Dorothee (ed.), Beastly Natures: Animals, Humans, and the Study of History, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010 ; Specht, JoshuaAnimal history after its triumph: unexpected animals, evolutionary approaches and the animal lens’, History Compass (2016) 14, pp. 326336 . Also see the extensive bibliography maintained by Michigan State University's Animal Studies Program at www.animalstudies.msu.edu/bibliography.php.

7 Despret, Vinciane, ‘From secret agents to interagency’, History and Theory (2013) 52, pp. 2944 ; Pearson, Chris, ‘Dogs, history and agency’, History and Theory (2013) 52, pp. 128145 ; Shaw, David Gary, ‘The torturer's horse: agency and animals in history’, History and Theory (2003) 52, pp. 146167 .

8 Swartz, Sandra, ‘The world the horses made: a South African case study of writing animals into social history’, International Review of Social History (2010) 55, pp. 241263 ; Shaw, David Gary, ‘A way with animals’, History and Theory (2013) 52, pp. 112 ; Tovey, Hilary, ‘Theorising nature and society in sociology: the invisibility of animals’, Sociological Ruralis (2003) 43, pp. 196215 ; Kheraj, Sean, ‘Demonstration wildlife: negotiating the animal landscape of Vancouver's Stanley Park, 1888–1996’, Environment and History (2012) 18, pp. 497527 ; Specht, Joshua, ‘The rise, fall and rebirth of the Texas Longhorn: an evolutionary history’, Environmental History (2016) 21, pp. 343363 .

9 Nash, Linda, ‘The agency of nature or the nature of agency?’, Environmental History (2005) 10, pp. 6769 .

10 Anderson, Virginia, Creatures of Empire: How Domestic Animals Transformed Early America, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002 ; Melville, Elinor, A Plague of Sheep: Environmental Consequences of the Conquest of Mexico, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994 .

11 Walker, Brett, ‘Animals and the intimacy of history’, History and Theory (2013) 52, pp. 4567 ; Rangarajan, Mahesh, ‘Animals with rich histories: the case of the lions of Gir Forest, Gujarat, India’, History and Theory (2013) 52, pp. 109127 ; Kardell, Örjan and Dahlström, Anne, ‘Wolves in the early 19th century county of Jonköping, Sweden’, Environment and History (2013) 19, pp. 339370 ; van der Ploeg, Jan, van Weerd, Merlijn and Persoon, Gerard A., ‘A cultural history of crocodiles in the Philippines: towards a new peace pact?Environment and History (2011) 17, pp. 229264 .

12 Pearson, Chris, ‘Between instinct and intelligence: harnessing police dog agency in early twentieth-century Paris’, Comparative Studies in Society and History (2016) 58, pp. 463490 ; Shaw, op. cit. (7); Sanders, Clifford R., Understanding Dogs, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999 ; Peter Edwards ‘Nature bridled: the treatment and training of horses in early modern England’, in Brantz, op. cit. (6), pp. 155–175.

13 Nagai, Kaori, Jones, Karen, Landry, Donna, Mattfeld, Monica, Rooney, Caroline and Sleigh, Charlotte (eds.), Cosmopolitan Animals, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015 ; Wadewitz, Lissa, ‘Are fish wildlife?’, Environmental History (2011) 16, pp. 423427 .

14 Screpfer, Susan and Scranton, Philip (eds.), Industrialising Organisms: Introducing Evolutionary History, London: Routledge, 2003 .

15 Anderson, op. cit. (10); Rosenberg, Gabriel, ‘A race suicide among the hogs: the biopolitics of pork in the United States’, American Quarterly (2016) 68, pp. 4973 ; White, Sam, ‘From globalised pig breeds to capitalist pigs: a study in animal cultures and evolutionary history’, Environmental History (2011) 16, pp. 94120 ; Apphun, Karl, ‘Ecologies of beef: eighteenth-century epizootics and the environmental history of early modern Europe’, Environmental History (2010) 15, pp. 268287 ; McShane, Clay and Tarr, Joel, The Horse in the City: Living Machines in the 19th Century, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007 ; Landry, Donna, Noble Brutes: How Eastern Horses Transformed English Culture, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008 ; Green, Ann Norton, Horses at Work: Harnessing Power in Industrial America, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008 .

16 Hribal, Jason, ‘Animals are part of the working class: a challenge to labour history’, Labor History (2003) 44, pp. 435453 .

17 Specht, op. cit. (8); Apphun, op. cit. (15); White, op. cit. (15).

18 Swartz, Sandra, ‘But where's the bloody horse? Textuality and corporeality in the “animal turn”’, Journal of Literary Studies (2007) 23, pp. 271292 ; Mullin, Molly, ‘Mirrors and windows: sociocultural studies of human–animal relationships’, Annual Review of Anthropology (1999) 28, pp. 201224 ; Susan J. Pearson and Mary Wiesmantel, ‘Does “the animal” exist? Towards a theory of social life with animals’, in Brantz, op. cit. (6), pp. 17–37.

19 Sanders, Clifford and Arluke, Arnold, ‘If lions could speak: investigating the animal–human relationship and the perspectives of non-human others’, Sociological Quarterly (1993) 34, pp. 377390 ; Swartz, op. cit. (8); Coleman, Jon, Vicious: Wolves and Men in America, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008 ; Gary Marvin, ‘Wolves in sheep's (and others’) clothing’, in Brantz, op. cit. (6), pp. 59–78; Skabelund, Aaron, ‘Animals and imperialism: recent historiographical trends’, History Compass (2013) 11, pp. 801807 ; Jones, Karen, ‘Writing the wolf: canine tales and North American environmental-literary tradition’, Environment and History (2011) 17, pp. 201228 .

20 Swartz, op. cit. (18).

21 Russell, Edmund, ‘Evolutionary history: prospectus for a new field’, Environmental History (2003) 8, pp. 204228 ; Russell, , ‘Coevolutionary history’, American Historical Review (2014) 119, pp. 15141528 ; and also see the other contributions to this roundtable issue on History Meets Biology; Smail, Daniel Lord, On Deep History and the Brain, New York: Perseus Publishing, 2008 ; Shyrock, Andrew and Smail, Daniel Lord (eds.), Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011 ; Jonsson, Fredrik, ‘A history of the species?’, History and Theory (2013) 52, pp. 462472 ; Christian, David, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004 ; McNeil, J.R. and McNeil, W.H., The Human Web: A Bird's Eye View of World History, New York: Norton, 2003 ; Spier, Fred, ‘The ghost of big history is roaming the Earth’, History and Theory (2005) 44, pp. 253264 ; McNeil, J.R., ‘Observations on the nature and culture of environmental history’, History and Theory (2003) 42, pp. 543 ; Stroud, Ellen, ‘Does nature always matter? Following dirt through history’, History and Theory (2003) 42, pp. 7581 .

22 Michael D. Gordin's contribution to an American Historical Review roundtable on History Meets Biology is especially timely here – see Evidence and the instability of biology’, American Historical Review (2014) 119, pp. 16211629 . See also Asdal, Kristin, ‘The problematic nature of nature: the post-constructivist challenge to environmental history’, History and Theory (2003) 42, pp. 6074 .

23 Reflecting this, historians of science have been particularly interested in anthropomorphism: Daston, Lorraine and Mitman, Gregg, Thinking with Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism, New York: Columbia University Press, 2006 ; Mitchell, Robert W., Thompson, Nicholas S. and Miles, H. Lyn (eds.), Anthropomorphism, Anecdotes, and Animals, New York: SUNY Press, 1996 .

24 This is particularly the case in relation to mammal fieldwork. See Rees, Amanda, The Infanticide Controversy: Primatology and the Art of Field Science, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009 ; Rees, , ‘Reflections on the field: primatology, popular science and the politics of personhood’, Social Studies of Science (2007) 37, pp. 881907 .

I would like to thank the contributors to this issue for giving me the chance to work with such fascinating material and for their tolerance of occasional micro-management on my part. Additionally, I thank them, as well as Andrew Webster, Jim Whitman and Iwan Morus, for valuable comments on this Introduction. I especially want to acknowledge the work of Jon Agar for everything that he has done to facilitate the appearance of this second issue of BJHS Themes, and for giving me the opportunity to edit it. Finally, I thank Trish Hatton, whose editorial assistance made everything easier.

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BJHS Themes
  • ISSN: 2058-850X
  • EISSN: 2056-354X
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