Humans, Animals, and Conservation Environments by Hannah Jaicks

Interested readers can gain an understanding of the foundational texts that explore the complex and dynamic roles that humans and animals play in one another’s lives across varied time-places. Here I have included these readings to introduce people to a rapidly evolving field of inquiry that is part of a broader body of research on human-animal relations. Though this list is by no means exhaustive, it is intended to articulate the evocative argument that humans’ relations with animals go beyond the who or what in the world to include the when and where  (Emel & Wolch, 1998). Specifically, the readings explore and integrate frameworks that theorize human-animal relationships as “simultaneously biological, cultural, economic, ethical, geographic, and political” (Urbanik, 2012). Selected readings from Lynn (1998), Whatmore (1998; 2002), and others (Anderson, 1995; Johnston, 2008; Wolch & Emel, 1995) are included in this list to illustrate how and why this research has become more pervasive in recent decades. They draw particular attention to the complexity and difficulty of developing and enacting the policies and practices that govern human-animal coexistence. I have also included earlier texts from feminist science studies (Haraway, 1998; 2003) and human-animal interactions (Bennett, 1960; Herzog & Burghardt, 1998; Kellert, 1998; Shepard & Sanders, 1985; Sauer, 1952) to provide readers with an understanding of how the field has transformed over time. Given the wide-range of disciplines, methods, and frameworks these readings integrate, this list has profound potential to inform policy-makers, conservation advocates, and scientific researchers alike.

As people continue to witness the heated and complicated debates about pressing environmental concerns and conflicts with wildlife, we are facing the inevitable realization that our past and present approaches to human-animal coexistence are insufficient. This interdisciplinary body of literature has instilled the imperative that research paradigms must meaningfully incorporate the diverse environments within which human-animal relations occur as well as respect the interests and stakes of nonhuman animals. Thus, these readings are a way for readers to see the alternative approaches that are being reimagined through a situated and critical lens (Buller, 2008; Collard, 2012; Peterson, Birckhead, Leong, Peterson, & Peterson, 2010; Philo & Wilbert, 2000). At a period when struggles to coexist within and across species are exacerbated by global environmental changes, this literature serves as a way to reframe the decisions we make across temporal, social, and spatial contexts. This list is designed to facilitate the recognition that all animals are active participants in the world, and it is through a sustained commitment to this understanding that we must take as our point of departure in future efforts to rethink and reform our political and scientific projects.

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 Supported by the CUNY Doctoral Students Council.