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My Family and Other Animals: Pets As Kin

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Abstract

The title of this chapter, which is the title of an autobiographical account of an animal-filled childhood on Corfu by the naturalist Gerald Durrell, gives a family-like character to animals and an animal-like character to the idea of family — it ignores the distinction between social and natural, human and animal. In similar fashion, Donna Haraway, in her Companion Species Manifesto, deconstructs the binary which separates nature and culture, eliding them as natureculture and discussing the joy of ‘training’ her four-legged friend or, more accurately, learning with her how to create an effective human-animal partnership for competition agility. Both these authors, in different ways, underline the close, family and friend-like relationships that can exist between human beings and the animals who share their domestic space. And both expose the permeability of the species barrier which allegedly separates humans from other animals (Durrell 1959; Haraway 2003). This species barrier has, for centuries in the west, been defended by science, religion and moral philosophy but is increasingly being brought into question (Midgley 1983; Rowlands 2002). Indeed a recognition of the connectedness of humans with other animals and the interdependence of human society and nature is leading to a reconceptualization of the place of humans in the natural world, something which is allegedly essential for the survival of the planet and which is referred to in the use of the term ‘post-humanism’.

Keywords

  • Social Network
  • Human Society
  • Companion Animal
  • Kinship Network
  • Fairy Tale

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© 2011 Nickie Charles and Charlotte Aull Davies

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Charles, N., Davies, C.A. (2011). My Family and Other Animals: Pets As Kin. In: Carter, B., Charles, N. (eds) Human and Other Animals. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230321366_4

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