Animals occupy human social life and space in many ways, yet, it is argued, humans have turned them into commodities (J. Wolch and J. Emel1998), or have degraded them by using them as pets (J. Berger1980). Major themes in animal geographies include: the relationships and interactions between animals and humans; the spaces and places occupied by animals in human culture; the environmental, social, and cultural implications of the representation and use of animals; the meanings and identities ascribed to animals and animal issues, and questions of animal welfare and rights. For a summary of animal geographies, see Emel et al. (2002) Soc. & Animals 10, 4.
Geographers using actor–network theory argue that the divisions between people and animals are subject to change and negotiation (S. Whatmore and L. Thorne1998; Hobson (2007) Pol. Geog. 26, 3) while ecofeminists see the ‘human chauvinism’ towards animals as part of a hierarchy topped by European-American males (G. Gaard1993). Wolch and Emel (op. cit.) argue that Western representations of animals such as wolves underpin the racism and sexism which label ‘others’ as savage. (Interestingly, in Russian representations, the wolf is the benevolent ‘caretaker’ of the forest, cleaning up the carrion).
Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography.