Defining Animal Geography with Julie Urbanik — ASI’s Defining Human-Annimal Studies 35


[Music] hello my name is Julie Urbanik and I’m
here to talk to you today about animal geography as one of the cofounders of
the animal geography specialty group of the Association of American Geographers
I’m an animal geographer myself and a huge proponent of this perspective in
the larger human animal studies community animal geography can best be
defined as the study of where when why and how non-human animals as subjects in
their own right intersect with human societies it is a subfield of the larger
discipline of geography and is represented by numerous edited volumes
books journal articles special issues of geographical and human animal studies
journals as well as courses and numerous multimedia projects its most significant
contribution to human animal studies is its emphasis on place both literally and
figuratively place is important for two reasons
the first is that all interactions happen somewhere and that somewhere is
key to understanding why the second is that each human animal interaction
occurs at the center of a constellation of conceptual linkages in other words
relations happen in places but how those particular relations and practices
happen depends on our conceptual placement of animals into different
categories such as pets food workers or experimental objects the study of
animals within geography has deepened and developed over time when geography
was formalized as an academic discipline at the turn of the 20th century the
focus was largely on mapping wildlife this expanded in the middle of the 20th
century to include a focus on livestock and the relations people have
both culturally and in terms of practices on the landscape in relation
to these animals today like human animal studies itself animal geography has
expanded to include all animals and all types of human animal interactions as
topics worthy of study animal geographers focus on specific practices
and relationships individual animals breeds or species their methodologies
include both quantitative and qualitative forms of data collection and
they use seven main lenses cultural economic environmental ethical
historical political and theoretical in addition they may draw from other fields
such as zoology Science and Technology studies or social theory to supplement
their work taking on topics as diverse as veganism the relationship of
microorganisms to human bodies how animals are used in tourism the
relationship between social theories like feminism and post-colonial studies
to human animal practices and on to farm animal welfare heritage breeds and even
the exotic pet trade animal geographers are looking at urban rural protected and
land and water based locations around the world
for me personally animal geography is a framework with which I can synthesize
the marryin lenses one can use when looking at any human animal topic and it
helps me gain a deeper understanding of where and why all of these practices and
interactions are happening I invite you to check out the animal geography
specialty groups website if you’re interested in learning more about our
work thank you [Music]

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