(Currently researching the production of India’s national identity via the tiger. Ran across this.)
This seminar will explore how national identities have been forged through the manipulation and deployment of animals and animality. How have animals, and ideas associated with such animals, been used to construct imagined communities? How have these constructions helped to strengthen or weaken national borders? How have assertions of imagined community, as expressed via relations with animals, overlapped with racial/ethnic identities?
In naming both animals and animality, I allude to the intersection of material practices with the representational appropriation of ideas and values of certain animals, which together forged the affective ties of groups or nations. The seminar also hopes to pursue issues surrounding the internal production of national identities by citizens and residents, as well as tensions arising when “outsiders” attempt to challenge, co-opt, or otherwise influence these identities.
Interdisciplinary studies of literature, film, and culture are welcome.
Potential topics include:
- The history of domestication
- Colonial and postcolonial encounters
- “Humane” campaigns against “inhumane” Others
- Distinctions between domestic, wild, and exotic animals
- Distinctions between edible and inedible animals
- Meat-eaters vs. vegetarians
- National dishes (e.g., Icelandic hakarl, Japanese sushi, English roast beef, Jamaican Ackee, Austrian wiener schnitzel, Hungarian goulash, Mexican taco)
- Cultural dishes that, due to migration and diasporas, now transcend national boundaries
- International traffic in animal products
- Taboo animals
- Zoos, menageries, and circuses
- Companion animals
- Breeding (e.g., dogs, cats, cows, sheep)
- Indigenous vs. introduced species
- “Alien,” “invasive,” and “nuisance” animals
- Species extermination (e.g. wolves, bison) and intersections with racial/ethnic cleansing in the name of the nation (e.g. Native Americans)
- Cultural histories of specific animals chosen to represent nations/peoples, such as the American bald eagle, the English bulldog, the French rooster, the Russian bear, the German eagle, the Chinese dragon, the Indian tiger, the Japanese crane, the Costa Rican quetzal, the Senegal lion, the Ivory Coast elephant, the Australian kangaroo, the New Zealand kiwi
- Identities forged through conceptions of animal-animal relationships, such as the Mexican flag’s depiction of an eagle eating a snake
- Tensions between the internal and external construction of animalizing/animalized identities (e.g. “Frenchies” as frogs)
Please see the CFP on the American Comparative Literature Association’s website here: http://www.acla.org/seminar/animals-animality-and-national-identity
Abstracts for papers should be submitted between September 1-23, 2015 through ACLA’s website (http://www.acla.org/annual-meeting). Please indicate interest in this panel during your submission. Full panels will be submitted to the American Comparative Literature Association for acceptance into the final program.
The American Comparative Literature Association’s 2016 Annual Meeting will take place at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts March 17-20, 2016.
This children’s reader encapsulates a simple, anthropocentric method of organizing life on earth: count the legs.
Humans = men, women, boys, girls
Beasts = four legs
Birds = two wings, two legs
Reptiles = crawl [deficient legs]
Insects = creeping and flying [little to no legs]
And that’s all you needed to know to be well on the road to “the temple of fame” (see frontispiece).
Among the tens of thousands of dog and cat remains, Hartsdale is also the final resting place of birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, and more. Apparently there is also a horse and a lion. (I’ve been there three times and have yet to find the lion’s memorial.)
In 2011, the State of New York decided to ban the burial of human cremains in pet cemeteries, but this ban was lifted this past August. It was a grudging retraction: pet cemeteries are still forbidden from advertising the possibility and from charging a fee (presumably as further disincentive), and must inform prospective purchasers that cremains (in the text of the NYS Register, “cremains” is defined as only human cremated remains) buried in pet cemeteries are not entitled to the same protections as those buried in designated human cemeteries (such as protection from being moved into a mass burial lot in the case of nonpayment, for example).
Many insist that these beloved animals indeed have souls, an afterlife, where the bereaved humans can reconnect with their lost loved ones. I can feel the pain behind the fervent wish to be reunited, to wish that forever is not forever.
And some gravestones reflect the ongoing devotion and sorrow of those left behind.
Some of the gravestones at the Hartsdale Canine Cemetery use the rhetoric of surrogacy, identifying the non-human animal as, essentially, as good as a human relative—and in some cases, perhaps superior.
Next to Larry, the “grandson,” lays Luke, the “son.”
“Our Little Man.”
In case there was any doubt, yes, I did love my cats more than I loved you.
Unabashedly claiming interspecies family.
This one is fascinating: Mickey is not a dog; he is merely a boy in dog-face. I hope someone runs across my blog and is inspired to write a whole article about this.
Stanley Brandes has written about American pet cemetery gravestones, tracking how they evidence the increasing humanization (my word, not his) of pet animals. As they increasingly were given human names and human religious and ethnic affiliations, their gravestones also reflected the pet’s adoption of their human family’s identity.
I love this: pets so beloved, they emigrated with their humans.