Abstract

Seen by some as innately dangerous and by others as victims of neglectful or abusive owners, pit bulls and pit bull–type dogs are central to numerous contemporary debates about both dangerous dogs and dogs in danger. This article takes up these debates in order to explore how specific relationships between humans and pit bulls reveal intersections among race, class, gender, nation, breed, and species. Beginning with the category problem of the pit bull, I turn to the recent arrest and imprisonment of NFL player Michael Vick. An African American man playing in a position traditionally occupied by white men, quarterback, Vick became the subject of a highly racialized media storm when revelations about his involvement in dogfighting were made public. The storm intensified when the dogs formerly belonging to Vick were rehabilitated by rescue groups and placed in families or sanctuaries. Drawing from work by Donna Haraway and others on “becoming with,” I examine the intersections between ontology and identity revealed by not only the various representations of Vick, the people who rehabilitated his dogs, and the dogs themselves but also a series of narratives written by white southern dogfighters. I argue that these examples demonstrate that human “becomings with” nonhuman animals are often “becomings in kind,” becomings in which each shapes the categorical kind of the other.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 689-709
Launched on MUSE
2013-09-20
Open Access
No
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