Blog post


Jennifer Wolch conceptualizes an urban theory that takes nonhumans seriously.

Jennifer Wolch16 November 2017

Malet Street, London. via Flickr.

In Animal Geographies: Place, Politics, and Identity in the Nature-Culture Borderlands, published by Verso in 1998, editors Jody Emel and Jennifer Wolch bring together a set of essays that rethink animal-human relations from geographical perspectives. In their introduction, Emel and Wolch write: 

The plight of animals worldwide has never been more serious than it is today. Each year, by the billions, animals are killed in factory farms; poisoned by toxic pollutants and waste; driven from their homes by logging, mining, agriculture, and urbanization; dissected, re-engineered, and used as spare body-parts; and kept in captivity and servitude to be discarded as soon as their utility to people has waned. This reality is mostly obscured by the progressive elimination of animals from everyday human experience, and by the creation of a thin veneer of civility surrounding human-animal relations...

The premise of Animal Geographies is that animals have been so indispensable to the structure of human affairs and so tied up with our visions of progress and the good life that we have been unable to (even try to) fully see them. Their very centrality prompted us to simply look away and to ignore their fates. But human practices now threaten the animal world and the entire global environment as never before. Our own futures are on the line too. Hence we have an intellectual responsibility as well as an ethical duty to consider the lives of animals closely...

In the excerpt below, Jennifer Wolch conceptualizes an urban theory that takes nonhumans seriously.

"[W]ithout the recognition that the city is of and within the environment, the wilderness of the wolf and the moose, the nature that most of us think of as natural cannot survive, and our own survival on the planet will come into question." 1

1. Introduction

Urbanization in the West was based historically on a notion of progress rooted in the conquest and exploitation of nature by culture. The moral compass of city builders pointed toward the virtues of reason, progress, and profit, leaving wild lands and wild things — as well as people deemed to be wild or "savage” — beyond the scope of their reckoning. Today, the logic of capitalist urbanization still proceeds without regard to nonhuman animal life, except as cash-on-the-hoof headed for slaughter on the "disassembly" line or commodities used to further the cycle of accumulation. Development may be slowed by laws protecting endangered species, but you will rarely see the bulldozers stopping to gently place rabbits or reptiles out of harm's way.

Paralleling this disregard for nonhuman life, you will find no mention of animals in contemporary urban theory, whose lexicon reveals a deep-seated anthropocentrism. In mainstream theory, urbanization transforms "empty” land through a process called "development” to produce "improved land," whose developers are exhorted (at least in neoclassical theory) to dedicate it to the "highest and best use.” Such language is perverse: wildlands are not "empty” but teeming with nonhuman life; "development” involves a thorough denaturalization of the environment; "improved land" is invariably impoverished in terms of soil quality, drainage, and vegetation; and judgements of "highest and best use" reflect profit-centered values and the interests of humans alone, ignoring not only wild or feral animals but captives such as pets, lab animals, and livestock, who live and die in urban space shared with people. Marxian and feminist varieties of urban theory are equally anthropocentric. 3

Our theories and practices of urbanization have contributed to disastrous ecological effects. Wildlife habitat is being destroyed at record rates as the urban front advances worldwide, driven in the First World by suburbanization and edge-city development, and in the Second and Third Worlds by pursuit of a "catching-up" development model that produces vast rural to urban migration flows and sprawling squatter landscapes. Entire ecosystems and species are threatened, while individual animals in search of food and/ or water must risk entry into urban areas, where they encounter people, vehicles, and other dangers. The explosion of urban pet populations has not only polluted urban waterways but led to mass killings of dogs and cats. Isolation of urban people from the domestic animals they eat has distanced them from the horrors and ecological harms of factory farming, and the escalating destruction of rangelands and forests driven by the market's efforts to create/satisfy a lust for meat. For most free creatures, as well as staggering numbers of captives such as pets and livestock, cities imply suffering, death, or extinction.

The aim of this paper is to foreground an urban theory that takes nonhumans seriously. Such a theory needs to address questions about (1) how urbanization of the natural environment impacts animals, and what global, national, and locality-specific political-economic and cultural forces drive modes of urbanization that are most threatening to animals; (2) how and why city residents react to the presence of animals in their midst, why attitudes may shift with new forms of urbanization, and what this means for animals; (3) how both city-building practices and human attitudes and behaviors together define the capacity of urban ecologies to support nonhuman life; and (4) how the planning/policy-making activities of the state, environmental design practices, and political struggles have emerged to slow the rate of violence toward animals witnessed under contemporary capitalist urbanization. In the first part, I clarify what I mean by "humans” and "animals," and provide a series of arguments suggesting that a transspecies urban theory is necessary to the development of an eco-socialist, feminist, anti-racist urban praxis. Then, in the second part, I argue that current considerations of animals and people in the capitalist city (based on US experience) are strictly limited, and suggest that a trans-species urban theory must be grounded in contemporary theoretical debates regarding urbanization, nature and culture, ecology, and urban environmental action.

2. Why Animals Matter (Even in Cities)

The rationale for considering animals in the context of urban environmentalism is not transparent. Urban environmental issues traditionally center around the pollution of the city conceived as human habitat, not animal habitat. Thus the various wings of the urban progressive environmental movement have avoided thinking about nonhumans and have left the ethical as well as pragmatic ecological, political, and economic questions regarding animals to be dealt with by those involved in the defense of endangered species or animal welfare. Such a division of labor privileges the rare and the tame, and ignores the lives and living spaces of the large number and variety of animals who dwell in cities. In this section, I argue that even common, everyday animals should matter.

The human-animal divide: a definition

At the outset, it is imperative to clarify what we mean when we talk about "animals" or "nonhumans” on the one hand, and "people" or "humans” on the other. Where does one draw the line between the two, and upon what criteria? In many parts of the world beliefs in transmogrification or transmigration of souls provide a basis for beliefs in human-animal continuity (or even coincidence). But in the Western world animals have for many centuries been defined as fundamentally different and ontologically separate from humans, and although explicit criteria for establishing human-animal difference have changed over time, all such criteria routinely use humans as the standard for judgement. The concern is, can animals do what humans do? rather than, can humans do what animals do? Thus judged, animals are inferior beings. The Darwinian revolution declared a fundamental continuity between the species, but standing below humans on the evolutionary scale, animals could still be readily separated from people, objectified and used instrumentally for food, clothes, transportation, company, or spare body parts. 

Agreement about the human-animal divide has recently collapsed. Critiques of post-Enlightenment science,  greater understanding of animal thinking and capabilities, and studies of human biology and behavior emphasizing human-animal similarities have all rendered claims about human uniqueness deeply suspect. Debates about the human-animal divide have also raged as a result of sociobiological discourses about the biological bases for human social organization and behavior, and feminist and antiracist arguments about the social bases for human differences claimed to be biological. Long-held beliefs in the human as social subject and the animal as biological object have thus been destabilized.

My position on the human-animal divide is that animals as well as people socially construct their worlds and influence each other's worlds. The resulting "animal constructs are likely to be markedly different from ours but may be no less real.” Animals have their own realities, their own worldviews; in short, they are subjects, not objects. This position is rarely reflected in ecosocialist, feminist, and anti-racist practice, however. Developed in direct opposition to a capitalist system riddled by divisions of class, race/ethnicity, and gender, and deeply destructive of nature, such practice ignores some sorts of animals altogether (for example, pets, livestock) or has embedded animals within holistic and/or anthropocentric conceptions of the environment and therefore avoided the question of animal subjectivity. Thus, in most forms of progressive environmentalism, animals have been objectified and/or backgrounded.

Thinking like a bat: the question of animal standpoints

The recovery of animal subjectivity implies an ethical and political obligation to redefine the urban problematic and to consider strategies for urban praxis from the standpoints of animals. Granting animals subjectivity at a theoretical, conceptual level is a first step. Even this first step is apt to be hotly contested by human social groups who have been marginalized and devalued by claims that they are "closer to animals” and hence less intelligent, worthy, or evolved than Anglo-European white males. It may also run counter to those who interpret the granting of subjectivity as synonymous with a granting of rights and object either to rights-type arguments in general or to animal rights specifically. But a far more difficult step must be taken if the revalorization of animal subjectivity is to be meaningful in terms of day-to-day practice. We not only have to "think like a mountain" but also to "think like a bat," somehow overcoming Nagel's classic objection that because bat sonar is not similar to any human sense, it is humanly impossible to answer a question such as "what is it like to be a bat?" or, more generally, "what is it like to be an animal?" 9

But is it impossible to think like a bat? There is a parallel here with the problems raised by standpoint (or multipositionality) theories. Standpoint theories assert that a variety of individual human differences (such as race, class, or gender) so strongly shape experience and thus interpretations of the world that a single position essentializes and silences difference, and fails to challenge power relations. In the extreme, such polyvocality leads to a nihilistic relativism and a paralysis of political action. But the response cannot be to return to practices of radical exclusion and denial of difference. Instead, we must recognize that individual humans are embedded in social relations and networks with people similar or different upon whom their welfare depends. 10 This realization allows for a recognition of kinship but also of difference, since identities are defined through seeing that we are similar to, and different from, related others. And through everyday interaction and concerted practice, and using what Haraway terms a "cyborg vision" that allows "partial, locatable, critical knowledge sustaining the possibility of webs of connection called solidarity," 11 we can embrace kinship as well as difference and encourage the emergence of an ethic of respect and mutuality, caring and friendship. 12

The webs of kinships and difference that shape individual identity involve both humans and animals. This is reasonably easy to accept in the abstract (that is, humans depend upon a rich ecology of animal organisms). But there is also a large volume of archeological, paleoanthropological, and psychological evidence suggesting that concrete interactions and interdependence with animal others are indispensable to the development of human cognition, identity, and consciousness, and to a maturity that accepts ambiguity, difference, and lack of control. 13 In short, animals are not only "good to think" (to borrow a phrase from Lévi-Strauss) but indispensable to learning how to think in the first place, and how to relate to other people.

Who are the relevant animal others? I argue that many sorts of animals matter, including domestic animals. Clearly, domestication has profoundly altered the intelligence, senses, and life ways of creatures such as dogs, cows, sheep, and horses so as to drastically diminish their otherness; so denaturalized, they have come to be seen as part of human culture. But wild animals have been appropriated and denaturalized by people too. This is evidenced by the myriad ways wildlife is commercialized (in both embodied and disembodied forms) and incorporated into material culture. And like domestic animals, wild animals can be profoundly impacted by human actions, often leading to significant behavioral adaptations. Ultimately, the division between wild and domestic must be seen as a permeable social construct; it may be better to conceive of a matrix of animals who vary with respect to the extent of physical or behavioral modification due to human intervention, and types of interaction with people.

Our ontological dependency on animals seems to have characterized us as a species since the Pleistocene. Human needs for dietary protein, desires for spiritual inspiration and companionship, and the ever-present possibility of ending up as somebody's dinner required thinking like an animal. This aspect of animal contribution to human development can be used as an (anthropomorphic) argument in defense of wildlife conservation or pet keeping. But my concern is how human dependency on animals was played out in terms of the patterns of human-animal interactions it precipitated. Specifically, did ontological dependency on animals create an interspecific ethic of caring and webs of friendship? Without resurrecting a 1990s version of the Noble Savage — an essentialized indigenous person living in spiritual and material harmony with nature — it is clear that for most of (pre) history, people ate wild animals, tamed them, and kept them captive, but also respected them as kin, friends, teachers, spirits, or gods. Their value lay both in their similarities with and differences from humans. Not coincidentally, most wild animal habitats were also sustained.

Re-enchanting the city: an agenda to bring the animals back in

How can animals play their integral role in human ontology today, thereby helping to foster ethical responses and political practices engendered by the recognition of human-animal kinship and difference? Most critically, how can such responses and practices possibly develop in places where everyday interaction with so many kinds of animals has been eliminated? Most people now live in such places, namely cities. Cities are perceived as so human-dominated that they become naturalized as just another part of the ecosystem, that is, the human habitat. In the West, many of us interact with or experience animals only by keeping captives of a restricted variety or eating "food” animals sliced into steak, chop, and roast. We get a sense of wild animals only by watching "Wild Kingdom” reruns or going to Sea World to see the latest in a long string of short-lived "Shamus.” 14 In our apparent mastery of urban nature, we are seemingly protected from all nature's dangers but chance losing any sense of wonder and awe for the nonhuman world. The loss of both the humility and the dignity of risk results in a widespread belief in the banality of day-to-day survival. This belief is deeply damaging to class, gender, and North-South relations as well as to nature. 15

To allow for the emergence of an ethic, practice, and politics of caring for animals and nature, we need to renaturalize cities and invite the animals back in, and in the process re-enchant the city. 16 I call this renaturalized, reenchanted city zoöpolis. The reintegration of people with animals and nature in zoöpolis can provide urban dwellers with the local, situated, everyday knowledge of animal life required to grasp animal standpoints or ways of being in the world, to interact with them accordingly in particular contexts, and to motivate political action necessary to protect their autonomy as subjects and their life spaces. Such knowledge would stimulate a thorough rethinking of a wide range of urban daily life practices: not only animal regulation and control practices, but landscaping, development rates and design, roadway and transportation decisions, use of energy, industrial toxics, and bioengineering — in short, all practices that impact animals and nature in its diverse forms (climate, plant life, landforms, and so on). And, at the most personal level, we might rethink eating habits, since factory farms are so environmentally destructive in situ, and the Western meat habit radically increases the rate at which wild habitats are converted to agricultural land worldwide (to say nothing of how one feels about eating cows, pigs, chickens, or fishes once they are embraced as kin).

While based in everyday practice like the bioregional paradigm, the renaturalization or zoöpolis model differs in including animals and nature in the metropolis rather than relying on an anti-urban spatial fix like small-scale communalism. It also accepts the reality of global interdependence rather than opting for autarky. Moreover, unlike deep ecological visions epistemically tied to a psychologized individualism and lacking in political-economic critique, urban renaturalization is motivated not only by a conviction that animals are central to human ontology in ways that enable the development of webs of kinship and caring with animal subjects, but that our alienation from animals results from specific political-economic structures, social relations, and institutions operative at several spatial scales. Such structures, relations, and institutions will not magically change once individuals recognize animal subjectivity, but will only be altered through political engagement and struggle against oppression based on class, race, gender, and species.

Beyond the city, the zoöpolis model serves as a powerful curb on the contradictory and colonizing environmental politics of the West as practiced both in the West itself and as inflicted on other parts of the world. For example, wildlife reserves are vital to prevent species extinction. But because they are "out there," remote from urban life, reserves can do nothing to alter entrenched modes of economic organization and associated consumption practices that hinge on continual growth and make reserves necessary in the first place. The only modes of life that the reserves change are those of subsistence peoples, who suddenly find themselves alienated from their traditional economic base and further immiserated. But an interspecific ethic of caring replaces dominionism to create urban regions where animals are not incarcerated, killed, or sent off to live in wildlife prisons, but instead are valued neighbors and partners in survival. This ethic links urban residents with peoples elsewhere in the world who have evolved ways of both surviving and sustaining the forests, streams, and diversity of animal lives, and enjoins their participation in the struggle. The Western myth of a pristine Arcadian wilderness, imposed with imperial impunity on those places held hostage to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in league with powerful international environmental organizations, is trumped by a post-colonial politics and practice that begins at home with animals in the city.

3. Ways of Thinking Animals in the City

An agenda for renaturalizing the city and bringing animals back in should be developed with an awareness of the impacts of urbanization on animals in the capitalist city, how urban residents think about and behave toward animal life, the ecological adaptations made by animals to urban conditions, and current practices and politics arising around urban animals. Studies that address these topics are primarily grounded in empiricist social science and wildlife biology. The challenge of trans-species urban theory is to develop a framework informed by social theory. The goal is to understand capitalist urbanization in a globalizing economy and what it means for animal life; how and why patterns of human-animal interactions change over time and space; urban animal ecology as science, social discourse, and political economy; and trans-species urban practice shaped by managerial plans and grassroots activism. Figure 6.1 lays out a metatheoretical heuristic device that links together the disparate discourses of the trans-species urban problematic. This device does not seek to privilege a particular theoretical perspective, but rather highlights multiple sources of inspiration that may be fruitful in theory development.

Animal town: urbanization, environmental change, and animal life chances

The city is built to accommodate humans and their pursuits, yet a subaltern "animal town” inevitably emerges with urban growth. This animal town shapes the practices of urbanization in key ways (for example, by attracting or repelling people/development in certain places, or influencing animal exclusion strategies). But animals are even more profoundly affected by the urbanization process under capitalism, which involves extensive denaturalization of rural or wild lands and widespread environmental pollution. The most basic types of urban environmental change are well-known and involve soils, hydrology, climate, ambient air and water quality, and vegetation. 17 Some wild animal species (for example, rats, pigeons, cockroaches) adapt to and/or thrive in cities. But others are unable to find appropriate food or shelter, adapt to urban climate, air quality, or hydrological changes, or tolerate contact with people. Captives, of course, are mostly restricted to homes, yards, or purpose-built quarters such as feed lots or labs, but even the health of pets, feral animals, and creatures destined for dissecting trays or dinner tables can be negatively affected by various forms of urban environmental pollution.

Figure 6.1 Conceptual framework for linking the disparate discourses of the trans-species urban problematic

Metropolitan development also creates spatially extensive, patchy landscapes and extreme habitat fragmentation that especially affects wildlife. Some animals can adapt to such fragmentation and to the human proximity it implies, but more commonly animals die in situ or migrate to less fragmented areas. If movement corridors between habitat patches are cut off, species extinction can result as fragmentation intensifies, due to declining habitat patch size, 18 deleterious edge effects, 19 distance or isolation effects, and related shifts in community ecology. 20 Where fragmentation leads to the loss of large predators, remaining species may proliferate, degrade the environment, and threaten the viability of other forms of wildlife. Weedy, opportunistic and/or exotic species may also invade, to similar effect.

Such accounts of urban environmental change and habitat fragmentation are not typically incorporated into theories of urbanization under capitalism. For example, most explanations of urbanization do not explicitly address the social or political-economic drivers of urban environmental change, especially habitat fragmentation. 21 By the same token, most studies of urban environments restrict themselves to the scientific measurement of environmental-quality shifts or describe habitat fragmentation in isolation from the social dynamics that drive it. 22 This suggests that urbanization models need to be reconsidered to account for the environmental as well as political-economic bases of urbanization, the range of institutional forces acting on the urban environment, and the cultural processes that background nature in the city.

Efforts to theoretically link urban and environmental change are at the heart of the new environmental history, which reorients ideas about urbanization by illustrating how environmental exploitation and disturbance underpin the history of cities, and how thinking about nature as an actor (rather than a passive object to be acted upon) can help us understand the course of urbanization. Contemporary urbanization, linked to global labor, capital, and commodity flows, is simultaneously rooted in exploitation of natural "resources" (including wildlife, domestic and other sorts of animals) and actively transforms regional landscapes and the possibilities for animal life — although not always in the manner desired or expected, due to nature's agency. Revisiting neo-Marxian theories of the local state as well as neo-Weberian concepts of urban managerialism to analyze relations between nature and the local state could illuminate the structural and institutional contexts of for example, habitat loss/degradation. One obvious starting place is growth machine theory, since it focuses on the influence of rentiers on the local state apparatus and local politics; 22 another is the critique of urban planning as part of the modernist project of control and domination of others (human as well as nonhuman) through rationalist city building and policing of urban interactions and human/animal proximities in the name of human health and welfare. Finally, urban cultural studies may help us understand how the aesthetics of urban built environments deepen the distanciation between animals and people. For instance, Wilson demonstrates how urban simulacra such as Zoos and wildlife parks have increasingly mediated human experience of animal life. 25 Real live animals can actually come to be seen as less than authentic since the terms of authenticity have been so thoroughly redefined. The distanciation of wild animals has simultaneously stimulated the elaboration of a romanticized wildness used as a means to peddle consumer goods, sell real estate, and sustain the capital accumulation process, reinforcing urban expansion and environmental degradation. 26

Reckoning with the beast: human interactions with urban animals

The everyday behavior of urban residents also influences the possibilities for urban animal life. The question of human relations with animals in the city has been tackled by empirical researchers armed with behavioral models, who posit that, through their behavior, people make cities more or less attractive to animals (for example, human pest management and animal control practices, urban design, provision of food and water for feral animals and/or wildlife). These behaviors, in turn, rest on underlying values and attitudes toward animals. In such values-attitudes-behavior frameworks, resident responses are rooted in cultural beliefs about animals, but also in the behavior of animals themselves — their destructiveness, charisma and charm, and, less frequently, their ecological benefits.

Attitudes toward animals have been characterized on the basis of survey research and the development of attitudinal typologies. 27 Findings suggest that urbanization increases both distanciation from nature and concern for animal welfare. Kellert, for example, found that urban residents were less apt to hold utilitarian attitudes, were more likely to have moralistic and humanistic attitudes, suggesting that they were concerned for the ethical treatment of animals, and were focused on individual animals such as pets and popular wildlife species. 28 Urban residents of large cities were more supportive of protecting endangered species; less in favor of shooting or trapping predators to control damage to livestock; more apt to be opposed to hunting; and supportive of allocating additional public resources for programs to increase wildlife in cities. Domestic and attractive animals were most preferred, while animals known to cause human property damage or inflict injury were among the least preferred.

Conventional wisdom characterizes the responses of urban residents and institutions to local animals in two ways: (1) as "pests,” who are implicitly granted agency in affecting the urban environment, given the social or economic costs they impose; or (2) as objectified "pets,” who provide companionship, an aesthetic amenity to property owners, or recreational opportunities such as bird-watching and feeding wildlife. 29 Almost no systematic research, however, has been conducted on urban residents’ behavior toward the wild or unfamiliar animals they encounter or how behavior is shaped by space or by class, patriarchy, or social constructions of race/ethnicity. Moreover, the behavior of urban institutions involved in urban wildlife management or animal regulation/control has yet to be explored. 30

How can we gain a deeper understanding of human interactions with the city's animals? The insights from wider debates in nature/culture theory are most instructive and help put behavioral research in proper context. 31 Increasingly, nature/culture theorizing converges on the conviction that the Western nature/culture dualism, a variant of the more fundamental division between object and subject, is artificial and deeply destructive of Earth's diverse life-forms. It validates a theory and practice of human/nature relations that backgrounds human dependency on nature. Hyperseparating nature from culture encourages its colonization and domination. The nature/culture dualism also incorporates nature into culture, denying its subjectivity and giving it solely instrumental value. By homogenizing and disembodying nature, it becomes possible to ignore the consequences of human activity such as urbanization, industrial production, and agroindustrialization on specific creatures and their terrains. This helps trigger what O'Connor terms the "second contradiction of capitalism,” that is, the destruction of the means of production via the process of capital accumulation itself. 32

The place-specific version of the nature/culture dualism is the city/country divide; as that place historically emblematic of human culture, the city seeks to exclude all remnants of the country from its midst, especially wild animals. As we have already seen, the radical exclusion of most animals from everyday urban life may disrupt development of human consciousness and identity, and prevent the emergence of interspecific webs of friendship and concern. This argument filters through several variants of radical ecophilosophy. In some versions, the centrality of "wild” animals is emphasized, while the potential of tamer animals, more common in cities but often genetically colonized, commodified, and/or neotenized, is questioned. In other versions, the wild/tame distinction in fostering human-animal bonds is minimized, but the progressive loss of interspecific contact and thus understanding is mourned. 33 Corporeal identity may also become increasingly destabilized as understandings of human embodiment traditionally derived through direct experience of live animal bodies/subjects evaporates or is radically transformed. Thus what we now require are theoretical treatments explicating how the deeply ingrained dualism between city (culture) and country (nature), as it is played out ontologically, shapes human-animal interactions in the city.

The ahistorical and placeless values-attitudes-behavior models also miss the role of social and political-economic context on urban values and attitudes toward animals. Yet such values and attitudes are apt to evolve in response to place-specific situations and local contextual shifts resulting from nonlocal dynamics, for example, the rapid internationalization of urban economies. Deepening global competition threatens to stimulate a hardening of attitudes toward animal exploitation and habitat destruction in an international "race to the bottom" regarding environmental/animal protections. Moreover, globalization sharply reveals the fact that understandings of nature in the West are insufficient to grasp the range of relationships between people and animals in diverse global cities fed by international migrant flows from places where nature/culture relations are radically different. Variations on the theme of colonization are being played back onto the colonizers; in the context of internationalization, complex questions arise concerning how both colonially imposed, indigenous, and hybrid meanings and practices are being diffused back into the West. Also, given globalization-generated international migration flows to urban regions, we need to query the role of diverse cultural norms regarding animals in the racialization of immigrant groups and spread of nativism in the West. Urban practices that appear to be linked to immigrant racialization involve animal sacrifice (for example, Santeria) and eating animals traditionally considered in Western culture as household companions.

An urban bestiary: animal ecologies in the city

The recognition that many animals coexist with people in cities and the management implications of shared urban space have spurred the nascent field of urban animal ecology. Grounded in biological field studies and heavily management-oriented, studies of urban animal life focus on wildlife species; there are very few ecological studies of urban companion or feral animals. 34 Most studies tend to be highly species- and place-specific. Only a small number of urban species have been scrutinized, typically in response to human-perceived problems, risk of species endangerment, or their "charismatic" character.

Ecological theory has moved away from holism and equilibrium notions toward a recognition that processes of environmental disturbance, uncertainty, and risk cause ecosystems and populations to continually shift over certain ranges varying with site and scale. 35 This suggests the utility of reconceptualizing cities as ecological disturbance regimes rather than ecological sacrifice zones whose integrity has been irrevocably violated. In order to fully appreciate the permeability of the city/country divide, the heterogeneity and variable patchiness of urban habitats and the possibilities (rather than impossibilities) for urban animal life must be more fully incorporated into ecological analyses. This in turn could inform decisions concerning prospective land-use changes (such as suburban densification or down-zoning, landscaping schemes, transportation corridor design) and indicate how they might influence individual animals and faunal assemblages in terms of stress levels, morbidity and mortality, mobility and access to multiple sources of food and shelter, reproductive success, and exposure to predation.

Scientific urban animal ecology is grounded in instrumental rationality and oriented toward environmental control, perhaps more than other branches of ecology since it is largely applications driven. The effort by preeminent ecologist Michael Soulé to frame a response to the postmodern reinvention of nature, however, demonstrates the penetration into ecology of feminist and postmodern critiques of modernist science. 36 Hayles, for instance, argues that our understanding of nature is mediated by the embodied interactivity of observer and observed, and the positionality (gender, class, race, species) of the observer. 37 Animals, for example, construct different worlds through their embodied interactions with it (that is, how their sensory and intellectual capabilities result in their world-views). And although some models may be more or less adequate interpretations of nature, the question of how positionality determines the models proposed, tested, and interpreted must always remain open. At a minimum, such thinking calls for self-reflexivity in ecological research on urban animals and ecological tool-kits augmented by rich ethnographic accounts of animals, personal narratives of nonscientific observers, and folklore.

Finally, scientific urban animal ecology is not practiced in a vacuum. Rather, like any other scientific pursuit, it is strongly shaped by motives of research sponsors (especially the state), those who use research products (such as planners), and ideologies of researchers themselves. Building on the field of science studies, claims of scientific ecology must thus be interrogated to expose the political economy of urban animal ecology and biodiversity analysis. How are studies of urban animals framed, and from whose perspective? What motivates them in the first place — developer proposals, hunter lobbies, environmental/animal rights organizations? Sorting out such questions requires not only evaluation of the technical merits of urban wildlife studies, but also analysis of how they are framed by epistemological and discursive traditions in scientific ecology and embedded in larger social and political-economic contexts.

Redesigning nature's metropolis: from managerialism to grassroots action

A nascent trans-species urban practice, as yet poorly documented and under-theorized, has appeared in many US cities. This practice involves numerous actors, including a variety of federal, state, and local bureaucracies, planners, and managers, and urban grassroots animal/environmental activists. In varying measure, the goals of such practice include altering the nature of interactions between people and animals in the city, creating minimum-impact urban environmental designs, changing everyday practices of the local state (wildlife managers and urban planners), and more forcefully defending the interests of urban animal life.

Wildlife managers and pest-control firms increasingly face local demands for alternatives to extermination-oriented animal-control policies. In the wildlife area, approaches were initially driven by local protests against conventional practices such as culling; now managers are more apt to consider in advance resident reactions to management alternatives and to adopt participatory approaches to decision-making in order to avoid opposition campaigns. Typically, alternative management strategies require education of urban residents to increase knowledge and understanding of, and respect for, wild animal neighbors, and to underscore how domestic animals may harm or be harmed by wildlife. There are limits to educational approaches, however, stimulating some jurisdictions to enact regulatory controls on common residential architectures, building maintenance, garbage storage, fencing, landscaping, and companion-animal keeping that are detrimental to wildlife.

Wild animals were never a focus of urban and regional planning. Nor were other kinds of animals, despite the fact that a large proportion of homes in North America and Europe shelter domestic animals. This is not surprising given the historic location of planning within the development-driven local state apparatus. Since the passage of the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, however, planners have been forced to grapple with the impact of human activities on threatened/endangered species. To reduce the impact of urbanization on threatened/endangered animals, planners have adopted such land-use tools as zoning (including urban limit lines and wildlife overlay zones), public/nonprofit land acquisition, transfer of development rights (TDR), environmental impact statements (EIS), and wildlife impact/habitat conservation linkage fees. 38 None of these tools is without severe and well-known technical, political, and economic problems, stimulating the development of approaches such as habitat conservation plans (HCPs)-regional landscape-scale planning efforts to avoid the fragmentation inherent in project-by-project planning and local zoning control. 39

Despite the ESA, minimum-impact planning for urban wildlife has not been a priority for either architects or urban planners. Wildlife-oriented residential landscape architecture remains uncommon. Most examples are new developments (as opposed to retrofits), sited at the urban fringe, planned for low densities, and thus oriented for upper-income residents only. Many are merely ploys to enhance real-estate profits by providing home-buyers, steeped in an anti-urban ideology of suburban living emphasizing proximity to “the outdoors,” with an extra "amenity" in the form of proximity to wild animals' bodies. Planning practice routinely defines other less attractive locations which host animals (dead or alive), such as slaughterhouses and factory farms, as "noxious” land uses and isolates them from urban residents to protect their sensibilities and the public health.

Wildlife considerations are also largely absent from the US progressive architecture/planning agenda, as are concerns for captives such as pets or livestock. The 1980s "costs of sprawl" debate made no mention of wildlife habitat, and the adherents to the so-called new urbanism and sustainable cities movements of the 1990s rarely define sustainability in relation to animals. The new urbanism emphasizes sustainability through high density and mixed-use urban development, but remains strictly anthropocentric in perspective. Although more explicitly ecocentric, the sustainable cities movement aims to reduce human impacts on the natural environment through environmentally sound systems of solid-waste treatment, energy production, transportation, housing, and so on, and the development of urban agriculture capable of supporting local residents. 40 But while such approaches have long-term benefits for all living things, the sustainable cities literature pays little attention to questions of animals per se. 41

Everyday practices of urban planners, landscape architects, and urban designers shape normative expectations and practical possibilities for human-animal interactions. But their practices do not reflect desires to enrich or facilitate interactions between people and animals through design, nor have they been assessed from this perspective. Even companion animals are ignored; despite the fact that there are more US households with companion animals than children, such animals remain invisible to architects and planners. What explains this anthropocentrism on the part of urban design and architectural professions? Social theories of urban design and professional practice could be used to better understand the anthropocentric production of urban space and place. Cuff, for example, explains the quotidian behavior of architects as part of a collective, interactive social process conditioned by institutional contexts including the local state and developer clients; not surprisingly, design outcomes reflect the growth orientation of contemporary urbanism. More broadly, Evernden argues that planning and design professionals are constrained by the larger culture's insistence on rationality and order and the radical exclusion of animals from the city. 43 The look of the city as created by planners and architects, dominated by standardized design forms such as the suburban tract house surrounded by a manicured, fenced lawn, reflects the deep-seated need to protect the domain of human control by excluding weeds, dirt, and — by extension — nature itself.

Environmental designers drawing on conservation biology and landscape ecology have more actively engaged the question of how to design new metropolitan landscapes for animals and people than have planners or architects. 44 At the regional level, wildlife corridor plans or reserve networks are in vogue. 45 Wildlife networks and corridors are meant to link "mainland” habitats beyond the urban fringe, achieve overall landscape connectivity to protect gene pools, and provide habitat for animals with small home ranges. 46 Can corridors protect and reintegrate animals in the metropolis? Corridor planning is a recent development, and we need case-specific political-economic analyses of corridor plans to answer this question. Preliminary experience suggests that at best large-scale corridors can offer vital protection to gravely threatened keystone species and thus a variety of other animals, while small-scale corridors can be an excellent urban design strategy for allowing common small animals, insects, and birds to share urban living space with people. However, grand corridor proposals can degrade into an amenity for urban recreationists (since they often win taxpayers' support only if justified on recreational rather than habitat-conservation grounds). At worst, corridors may become a collaborationist strategy that merely smooths a pathway for urban real-estate development into wilderness areas.

A growing number of urban grassroots struggles revolves around the protection of specific wild animals or animal populations, and around the preservation of urban wetlands, forests, and other wildlife habitat due to their importance to wildlife. Also, growing awareness of companion-animal wants and desires has stimulated grassroots efforts to create specially designed spaces for pets in the city, such as dog parks. 47 But we have very little systematic information about what catalyzes such grassroots transspecies urban practices or about the connections between such struggles and other forms of local eco/animal activism. It is not clear if grassroots struggles around animals in the city are linked organizationally either to larger-scale environmental activism or green politics, or to traditional national animal welfare organizations, suggesting the need for mapping exercises and organizational network analyses. Ephemeral and limited case-study information suggests that political action around urban animals can expose deep divisions within environmentalism and the animal welfare establishment. These divisions mirror the broader political splits between mainstream environmentalism and the environmental justice movement, between animal rights organizations and environmentalists, and between groups with animal rights and groups with animal welfare orientations. For example, many mainstream groups only pay lip service (if that) to social justice issues, and so many activists of color continue to consider traditional environmental priorities such as wildlands and wildlife — especially in cities — as at best a frivolous obsession of affluent white suburban environmentalists, and at worst reflective of pervasive elitism and racism. Local struggles around wildlife issues can also expose the philosophical split between holistic environmental groups and individualist animal rights activists; for example, such conflicts often arise over proposals to kill feral animals in order to protect native species and ecosystem fragments. And reformist animal welfare organizations such as urban humane societies, concerned primarily with companion animals and often financially dependent on the local state, may be wary of siding with animal rights/liberation groups critical not only of state policies but also the standard practices of the humane societies themselves. 48

The rise of organizations and informal groups acting to preserve animal habitat in the city, change management policies, and protect individual animals indicates a shift in everyday thinking about the positionality of animals. If such a shift is underway, why and why now? One possibility is that ecocentric environmental ethics and especially animal rights thinking, with its parallels between racism, sexism, and "speciesism," have permeated popular consciousness and stimulated new social movements around urban animals. Other avenues of explanation may open up by theorizing transspecies movements within the broader context of new social movement theory, which points to these movements' consumption-related focus; grassroots, localist, and anti-state nature; and linkages to the formation of new sociocultural identities necessitated by the postmodern condition and contemporary capitalism. 49 Viewed through the lens of new social movement theory, struggles to resist incursions of capital into urban wildlife habitat or defend the interests of animals in the city could be contextualized within larger social and political-economic dynamics as they alter forms of activism and change individual-level priorities for political action. Such an exercise might even reveal that new social movements around animals transcend both production and consumption-related concerns, reflecting instead a desire among some people to span the human-animal divide by extending networks of caring and friendship to nonhuman others.

4. Toward Zoöpolis

Zoöpolis presents both challenges and opportunities for those committed to eco-socialist, feminist, and anti-racist urban futures. At one level, the challenge is to overcome deep divisions in theoretical thinking about nonhumans and their place in the human moral universe. Perhaps more crucial is the challenge of political practice, where purity of theory gives way to a more situated ethics, coalition building, and formation of strategic alliances. Can progressive urban environmentalism build a bridge to those people struggling around questions of urban animals, just as reds have reached out to greens, greens to feminists, feminists to those fighting racism? In time- and place-specific contexts where real linkages are forged, the range of potential alliances is apt to be great, extending from groups with substantial overlap with progressive environmental thinking to those whose communalities are more tenuous and whose focuses are more parochial. Making common cause on specific efforts to fight toxics, promote recycling, or shape air-quality management plans with grassroots groups whose raison d'etre is urban wildlife, pets, or farm animal welfare may be difficult. The potential to expand and strengthen the movement is significant, however, and should not be overlooked.

The discourse of zoöpolis creates a space to initiate outreach, conversation, and collaboration in these borderlands of environmental action. Zoëpolis invites a critique of contemporary urbanization from the standpoints of animals but also from the perspective of people, who together with animals suffer from urban pollution and habitat degradation and who are denied the experience of animal kinship and otherness so vital to their well-being. Rejecting alienated theme-park models of human interaction with animals in the city, zoöpolis instead asks for a future in which animals and nature would no longer be incarcerated beyond the reach of our everyday lives, leaving us with only cartoons to heal the wounds of their absence. In a city re-enchanted by the animal kin-dom, the once-solid Enchanted Kingdom might just melt into air.


A slightly longer version of this chapter appears in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism. 7, 1996, pp. 2-48, I am grateful to Guilford Press for allowing it to be reproduced here.


1. Daniel B. Botkin, Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-First Century, New York: Oxford, 1990, p. 67.

2. Such commodified animals include those providing city dwellers with opportunities for "nature consumption" and a vast array of captive and companion animals sold for profit

3. For exceptions, see Ted Benton, Natural Relations: Ecology, Animal Rights and Social Justice, London: Verso Books, 1993; and Barbara Noske, Humans and Other Arimals, London: Unwin Hyman, 1989.

4. Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, Ecofeminism, London: Zed Books, 1993.

5. For example, Lynda Birke and Ruth Hubbard, eds, Reinventing Biology: Respect for Life and the Creation of Knowledge, Bloomington and Indianapolis, Ind. Indiana University Press, 1995.

6. Barbara Noske, Humans and Other Animals, p. 158; for similar perspectives, see also Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, New York: Routledge, 1991; Val Plumwood, Feminism and the Mastery of Nature, London: Routledge, 1993, and, from the perspective of a biologist, Donald Griffin, Animal Thinking, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1984,

7. Progressive environmental practice has conceptualized "the environment" as a scientifically defined systern; as "natural resources” to be protected for human use; or as an active but unitary subject to be respected as an independent force with inherent value. The first two approaches are anthropocentric; the ecocentric third approach, common to several strands of green thought, is an improvement, but its ecological holism backgrounds interspecific difference among animals (human and nonhuman) as well as the difference between animate and inanimate nature.

8. A recovery of the animal subject does not imply that animals have rights, although the rights argument does hinge on the conviction that animals are subjects of a life; see Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights, Berkeley, Calif.; University of California Press, 1986.

9. Thomas Nagel, "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" The Philosophical Review 83, 1974.

10. This argument follows those by Plumwood, Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. See also Jessica Benjamin, The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism and the Problem of Domination, London: Virago, 1988, and Jean Grimshaw, Philosophy and Feminist Thinking, Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, 1986.

11. Donna Haraway, "Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective,” in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women, p. 19.

12. This in no way precludes self-defense against animals such as predators, parasites, or micro-organisms that threaten to harm people.

13. This evidence has perhaps most extensively been marshaled by Paul Shepard in Thinking Animals: Animals and the Development of Human Intelligence, New York: Viking Press, 1978; Nature and Madness, San Francisco, Calif.: Sierra Club Books, 1982, and, most recently, The Others, Washington, D.C.: Earth Island Press, 1996.

14. "Shamu" was the name used for a series of killer whales who performed in a major US marine theme park,

15. Mies and Shiva, Ecofeminism.

16. As highlighted in the following section, there are many animals that do, in fact, inhabit urban areas. But most are uninvited, and many are actively expelled or exterminated. Moreover, animals have been largely excluded from our understanding of cities and urbanism.

17, Ann Whiston Sprin, The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design, New York: Basic Books, 1984, Michael Hough, City Form and Natural Process, NewYork: Routledge, 1995.

18. O. H. Frankel and Michael E. Soulé, Conservation and Evolution, London: Cambridge University Press, 1981; M. E. Gilpin and I. Hanski, eds, Metapopulation Dynamics: Empirical and Theoretical Investigations, New York: Academic Press, 1991.

19. Michael E. Soulé, "Land Use Planning and Wildlife Maintenance: Guidelines for Conserving Wildlife in an Urban Landscape," Journal of the American Planning Association 57, 1991.

20. M. I. Shaffer, "Minimum Population Sizes for Species Conservation," BioScience 31, 98.

21. See, for example, Michael Dear and Allen J. Scott, Urbanization and Urban Planning in Capitalist Society, London: Methuen, 1981.

22. An example is an Laurie, ed., Nature in Cities, New York: Wiley, 1979.

23. John R. Logan and Harvey L. Molotch, Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place, Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1987.

24. Elizabeth Wilson, The Sphinx in the City: Urban Life, the Control of Disorder, and Women, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991; Christine M. Boyer, Dreaming the Rational City: The Myth of American City Planning, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1983; Chris Philo, "Animals, Geography and the City: Notes on inclusions and Exclusions," Environment & Planning D: Society and Space, 13, 1995.

25. Alexander Wilson, The Culture of Nature: North American Landscapes from Disneyland to the Exxon Valdez, Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell Books, 1992.

26. Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild, San Francisco, Calif: North Point Press, 1990.

27. See the three-part study by Stephen R. Kellert, Public Attitudes toward Critical Wildlife and Natural Habitat Issues, Phase I, US Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, 1979; Activities of the American Public Relating to Animals, Phase II, US Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, 1980; and, co-authored with Joyce Berry, Knowledge, Affection and Basic Attitudes toward Animals in American Society, Phase III, US Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, 1980.

28. Stephen R. Kellert, "Urban Americans' Perceptions of Animals and the Natural Environment," Urban Ecology 8, 1984.

29. David A. King, Jody L. White, and William W. Shaw, "Influence of Urban Wildlife Habitats on the Value of Residential Properties,” in L. W. Adams and D. L. Leedy, eds, Wildlife Conservation in Metropolitan Environments, National Institute for Urban Wildlife, 1991, pp. 165-9, and William W. Shaw, J. Mangun, and R. Lyons, "Residential Enjoyment of Wildlife Resources by Americans," Leisure Sciences 7, 1985.

30. For an exception, see William W. Shaw and Vashti Supplee, “Wildlife Conservation in a Rapidly Expanding Metropolitan Area: Informational, Institutional and Economic Constraints and Solutions," in L. W. Adams and D. L. Leedy, eds, Integrating Man and Nature in the Metropolitan Environment, National Institute of Urban Wildlife, 1987, pp. 191—8.

31. Donna Haraway, Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science, New York: Routledge, 1989; Neil Evernaen, The Social Creation of Nature, Baltimore, Md. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992; Plumwood, Feminism and the Mastery of Nature.

32. James O'Connor, "Capitalism, Nature, Socialism: A Theoretical Introduction,” Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 1, 1988.

33. Paul Shepard, "Our Animal Friends,” in S. R. Kellert and E. O. Wilson, eds, The Biophilia Hypothesis, Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1993, pp. 275-300, stresses the wild, while others are more inclusive, such as Noske, Humans and Other Animals, and Karen Davis, "Thinking Like a Chicken: Farm Animals and the Feminine Connection,” in Carol J. Adams and Josephine Donovan, eds, Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations, Durham, N.C. and London: Duke University Press, 1995, pp. 192-212.

34. For exceptions, see Alan M. Beck, The Ecology of Stray Dogs: A Study of Free-ranging Urban Animals, Baltimore, Md. York Press, 1974; and C. Haspel and R. E. Calhoun, "Activity Patterns of Free-Ranging Cats in Brooklyn, New York," Journal of Mammology 74, 1998、

35. S.T.A. Pickett and P.S. White, eds, The Ecology of Natural Disturbance and Patch Dynamics, Orlando, Fla.: Academic Press, 1985; Botkin, Discordant Harmonies. In extreme form, the disturbance perspective can be used politically to rationalize anthropogenic destruction of the environment; see Donald Worster, The Wealth of Nature: Environmental History and the Ecological Imagination, New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, and Ludwig Trepl, "Holism and Reductionism in Ecology: Technical, Political and Ideological Implications," Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 5, 1994. But see also the response to Trepi from Richard Levens and Richard C. Lewontin, "Holism and Reductionism in Ecology," Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 5, 1994.

36. Michael E. Soulé and Gary Lease, eds, Reinventing Nature? Responses to Postmodern Deconstruction, Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1995. For feminist/ postmodern critiques of science, see Sandra Harding, The Science Question in Feminism, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1986; Haraway, Primate Visions; and Lynda Birke, Feminism, Animals and Science: The Naming of the Shrew, Buckingham: Open University Press, 1994.

37. Katherine N. Hayles, "Searching for Common Ground,” in Soulé and Lease, eds, Reinventing Nature? pp. 47-64.

38. Daniel L. Leedy, Robert M. Maestro, and Thomas M. Franklin, Planning for Wildlife in Cities and Suburbs, Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1978; Arthur C. Nelson, James C. Nicholas, and Lindell L. Marsh, "New Fangled Impact Fees: Both the Environment and New Development Benefit from Environmental Linkage Fees," Planning 58, 1992.

39. Only a small number of HCPs have been developed or are in progress, and the approach remains hotly contested. See Timothy Beatley, Habital Conservation Planning: Endangered Species and Urban Growth, Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1994.

40. Sim Van der Rya and Peter Calthorpe, Sustainable Cities: A New Design Synthesis for Cities, Suburbs, and Towns, San Francisco, Calif.; Sierra Club Books, 1991; Richard Stren, Rodney White, and Joseph Whitney, Sustainable Cities: Urbanization and the Environment in International Perspective, Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1992: Rutherford H. Platt, Rowan A. Rowntree, and Pamela C. Muick, eds, The Ecological City: Preserving and Restoring Urban Biodiversity, Minneapolis, Minn. University of Minnesota Press, 1994.

41. An interesting exception is the green-inspired manifesto for sustainable urban development; see Peter Berg, Beryl Magilavy, and Seth Zuckerman, eds, A Green City Program for San Francisco Bay Area Cities and Towns, San Francisco, Calif.: Planet Drum Books, 1986, pp. 48-9, which recommends riparian setback requirements to protect wildlife, review of toxic releases for their impacts on wildlife, habitat restoration, a department of natural life to work on behalf of urban wildness, citizen education, mechanisms to fund habitat maintenance, and (somewhat oxymoronically) the "creation” of "new wild places.”

42. Dana Cuff, Architecture: The Story of Practice, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991.

43. Evernden, Social Creation of Nature, p. 119.

44. R.T.T. Foreman and M. Godron, Landscape Ecology, New York: John Wiley and Sons,

45. Charles E. Little, Greenways for America, Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990; Daniel S. Smith and Paul Cawood Heilmund, Ecology of Greenways: Design and Function of Linear Conservation Areas, Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

46. There is also scientific debate about the merits of corridors; see, for instance, Daniel Simberloff and James Cox, "Consequences and Costs of Conservation Corridors," Conservation Biology 1, 1987: Simberloff and Cox argue that corridors may help spread diseases and exotics, decrease genetic variation or disrupt local adaptations and coadapted gene complexes, spread fire or other contagious catastrophes, and increase exposure to hunters/poachers and other predators. Reed F, Noss ("Corridors in Real Landscapes: A Reply to Simberloff and Cox,” Conservation Biology 1, 1987) however, maintains that the best argument for corridors is that the original landscape was interconnected.

47. Jennifer Wolch and Stacy Rowe, "Companions in the Park: Laurel Canyon Dog Park, Los Angeles," Landscape 31, 1993,

48. Such practices include putting large numbers of companion animals to death on a routine basis, selling impounded animals to biomedical laboratories, and so on.

49. Alain Touraine, The Return of the Actor: Social Theory in Postindustrial Society, Minneapolis, Minn.; University of Minnesota Press, 1988: Alberto Melucci, Nomads of the Present: Social Movements and Individual Needs in Contemporary Society, Philadelphia, Pa.: Temple University Press, 1989; Alan Scott, Ideology and the New Social Movements, London: Unwin Hyman, 1990.

[book-strip index="1" style="display"]
Animal Geographies
Each year billions of animals are poisoned, dissected, displaced, killed for consumption, or held in captivity—usually for the benefit of humans. The animal world has never been under greater peril...
What is it that makes humans human? As science and technology challenge the boundaries between life and non-life, between organic and inorganic, this ancient question is more timely than ever. Accl...
The Right to the City
In 1968, the French Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre wrote “Le Droit a la Ville” (“The Right to the City”), which has become one of the most essential texts in radical geography and urban studies...
Natural Relations
In this challenging book, Ted Benton takes recent debates about the moral status of animals as a basis for reviewing the discourse of “human rights.” Liberal-individualist views of human rights and...
Primate Visions
What counts as nature in the late twentieth century? How do we create scientific disciplines and histories of science? How are the issues of race and gender written into the ways we imagine the nat...
Animals Like Us
Foot and Mouth and Mad Cow Disease are but two of the results of treating animals as commodities, subject only to commercial constraints and ignoring all natural and moral considerations. Chickens ...
Postmodern Geographies
Postmodern Geographies stands as the cardinal broadcast and defence of theory’s “spatial turn.” From the suppression of space in modern social science and the disciplinary aloofness of geography to...
Extreme Cities
How will climate change affect our lives? Where will its impacts be most deeply felt? Are we doing enough to protect ourselves from the coming chaos? In Extreme Cities, Ashley Dawson argues that ci...
Capitalism in the Web of Life
Finance. Climate. Food. Work. How are the crises of the twenty-first century connected? In Capitalism in the Web of Life, Jason W. Moore argues that the sources of today’s global turbulence have a ...
Dearest Pet

Dearest Pet

“People love animals—a stroke here, a pat there, a quick nuzzle in that gorgeous fur … the amount of cuddling they get can make you jealous. In Holland, dogs are caressed more than people. Not as...
Rebel Cities
Long before Occupy, cities were the subject of much utopian thinking. They are the centers of capital accumulation as well as of revolutionary politics, where deeper currents of social and politica...
Ecology of Fear
Counterpointing Los Angeles’s central role in America’s fantasy life – the city has been destroyed no less than 138 times in novels and films since 1909 – with its wanton denial of its own real his...

Filed under: ecology, geography, urbanism, weekend-read