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Deep History, Evolutionary History, and Animals in the Anthropocene

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Animal Ethics in the Age of Humans

Abstract

How do we write a history of animals in the Anthropocene? In the past decade, there have been several attempts to bring biological thought into historical writing. One, ‘deep history’ as advocated by Daniel Lord Smail, aims to push the beginnings of human history back into the Pleistocene, long before the advent of written documents. In another, environmental historian Edmund Russell advocates the study of co-evolution (of humans and other living things) to explain particular historical events. Neither of these approaches specifically comments on animals. This essay examines these approaches and others to develop a new historical discourse that de-centers humans and incorporates both human and non-human animals. Such a history will help to recapture the original moral aims of historical practice.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For discussion of this point in relation to ecology, see Higgs et al. (2014).

  2. 2.

    For more on this point, see Guerrini (2003), ‘Suggested Further Reading’.

  3. 3.

    This paragraph and the next are adapted from a more extensive account in Guerrini (2015).

  4. 4.

    Buffon secretly believed the earth could be as much as ten million years old (Roger 1997, 411).

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Correspondence to Anita Guerrini .

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Guerrini, A. (2016). Deep History, Evolutionary History, and Animals in the Anthropocene. In: Bovenkerk, B., Keulartz, J. (eds) Animal Ethics in the Age of Humans. The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics, vol 23. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-44206-8_2

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