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Animals Erased

Discourse, Ecology, and Reconnection with the Natural World

Arran Stibbe

Publication Year: 2012

Animals are disappearing, vanishing, and dying out--not just in the physical sense of becoming extinct, but in the sense of being erased from our consciousness. Increasingly, interactions with animals happen at a remove: mediated by nature programs, books, and cartoons; framed by the enclosures of zoos and aquariums; distanced by the museum cases that display lifeless bodies. In this thought-provoking book, Arran Stibbe takes us on a journey of discovery, revealing the many ways in which language affects our relationships with animals and the natural world. Animal-product industry manuals, school textbooks, ecological reports, media coverage of environmental issues, and animal-rights polemics all commonly portray animals as inanimate objects or passive victims. In his search for an alternative to these negative forms of discourse, Stibbe turns to the traditional culture of Japan. Within Zen philosophy, haiku poetry, and even contemporary children's animated films, animals appear as active agents, leading their own lives for their own purposes, and of value in themselves.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

This collection of essays represents ten years of research into relationships between humans and other animals. The chapters are based on articles that have been published by a wide range of peer-reviewed academic journals. Thanks are due to the publishers of these journals, all of whom have given permission...

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Introduction: Vanishing Animals

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pp. 1-18

Animals are disappearing, vanishing, dying out, not just in the physical sense of becoming extinct, but in the sense of being erased from our consciousness. Charles Bergman (2005) illustrates this in his description of ecologists who follow animals through jungles without ever catching a glimpse of them. Instead...

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1. Destructive Discourses: Animals within a Symbolic World

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pp. 19-34

Fairclough (1992b: 2) describes the “linguistic turn” in social theory, where toward the end of the twentieth century language began to be “accorded a more central role within social phenomena.” The role of language in structuring power relations, in particular, has come under close scrutiny...

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2. As Charming as a Pig

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pp. 35-52

In Victorian Britain, the relationship between people and pigs could be described as one of closeness. Pigs were an integral part of village life, living in close proximity with their owners and being fed on leftover food from the kitchen or even the table (Malcolmson and Mastoris 1998). However, Leach...

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3. From Flu-like Virus to Deadly Disease

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pp. 53-62

It turned out worse than that. In the end, the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic in the UK resulted in the slaughter of at least 6 million animals (4.9 million sheep, 0.7 million cattle, and 0.4 million pigs) — the worst outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in recorded history (Royal Society 2002). The welfare implications were...

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4. Counter-Discourses: Animals in Ecology and Environmentalism

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pp. 63-84

When we look back at the extraordinary progress humanity has made during the last 100 years, our satisfaction is inevitably marred by what has happened to the relationship between humans and other animals. While oppression and cruelty toward others may always have existed, the number of animals who...

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5. The Curtailed Journey of the Atlantic Salmon

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pp. 85-102

This is a chapter about fish, their representation in discourse, and how this could potentially influence how they are treated. It is about the journey of Atlantic salmon, which in the wild would involve swimming far out into the Atlantic, but is increasingly being curtailed by the net walls of aquaculture cages in...

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6. Boyd’s Forest Dragon, or the Survival of Humanity

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pp. 103-120

This chapter continues to explore counter-discourses through detailed analysis of how the term biodiversity is used across a wide range of discourses. The aim is to show how one particular word can be used with entirely different meanings in different discourses, depending on the goals and ideologies of its users, and to...

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7. From Counter-Discourses to Alternative Discourses: Environmental Education in Japan

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pp. 121-144

Until this point, the chapters have focused on critical analysis of discourses originating in the UK and the United States, without consideration of the place in which these discourses were produced or consumed. From this point onward, the book is firmly rooted in one particular country, Japan. There are two reasons...

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8. Haiku and Beyond

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pp. 145-166

This chapter takes a closer look at the discourse of haiku as one based on very different assumptions from both those of destructive discourses and counter-discourses in the West. The starting point is with the origins of human separation from animals and the natural world, and this leads on to a discussion of how...

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9. Zen and the Art of Environmental Education

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pp. 167-188

The previous chapter described the discourse of haiku as an example of a discourse that represents the natural world in ways that overcome some of the abstraction and objectification of mainstream discourses in the West and promotes direct connection with animals and nature. However, haiku poetry itself...

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10. Conclusion

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pp. 189-194

This book has examined destructive discourses that objectify animals and justify intensive farming systems, with negative consequences for both animals and the ecological systems that support life. It has explored counter-discourses of environmentalism and animal rights that attempt to deal with those...


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pp. 195-209


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pp. 211-213

About the Author

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E-ISBN-13: 9780819572332
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819572318

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 777375471
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Animals Erased

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Ecology -- Philosophy.
  • Animals -- Social aspects.
  • Discourse analysis.
  • Environmental ethics.
  • Animals and civilization.
  • Human ecology -- Philosophy.
  • Nature -- Effect of human beings on.
  • Animal welfare.
  • Ecology -- Moral and ethical aspects.
  • Human-animal relationships.
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