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Animals, Society and Culture


Animals, Society and Culture Lecture 9: Animals as spectacle 2013-14 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Animals, Society and Culture

Animals, Society and Culture
  • Lecture 9
  • Animals as spectacle
  • 2013-14

Lecture outline
  • What are animal spectacles? What form do they
  • What do they say about human-animal relations?
  • How have they been understood sociologically?

Ancient world
  • Animal spectacles about demonstrating the
    superiority of humans over the natural world
  • The arena was a human construction that brought
    into sharp relief the boundaries between order
    and chaos, culture and nature, human and animal.
    It was a place where the community gathered to
    witness and celebrate the elimination of threats
    to its security. The spectacles of the torment
    and death of animals and bestial humans provided
    the audience with the assurance that their state
    could triumph over the menacing chaos of nature.
    (Shelton, 2007126)
  • Shelton, J (2007) Beastly spectacles in the
    Ancient Mediterranean world in L Kalof (ed) A
    cultural history of animals in antiquity, Berg

Humane society
  • Every year, approximately 250,000 bulls are
    killed in bullfights. The animals are stabbed
    multiple times before suffering slow, agonizing
    deaths in front of an audience, including
    children. Animal cruelty is not entertainment.
    You can help by not attending bullfights. (Humane
    Society) http//

Horserace goers
  • Racecourse attendance reached its highest level
    in recent years, with the number of people going
    racing across the country rising again for the
    third consecutive year. Total attendance reached
    6.15 million visits, an increase of 7 from 2010.
    Average daily attendances saw a rise of 1.
    (Horserace Betting Levy Board, annual report,

Greyhound racing
  • Welcome to the website of the Greyhound Board of
    Great Britain, the governing body for licensed
    greyhound racing.  With attendances of over two
    million and 2.5 billion wagered on races each
    year, it is no surprise that greyhound racing
    remains one of the country's most popular
    spectator sports. http//

Dog agility
  • http//

Performing dolphins
Spanish Riding School
  • http//

  • A form of play set apart from everyday life
  • Its organised, involves physical exertion, is
    rule bound
  • For both participants and spectators its
    exciting and entertaining

  • Wild and domestic
  • Nature and culture
  • Human and animal
  • Male and female

Wild versus domestic
  • Bulls perceived as wild but
  • Bred especially for the corrida
  • Have qualities of wildness and resistance to
  • There is a fundamental ambiguity about the toro
    bravo which should not be ignored. It is not
    simply an animal captured from the wild, it has
    been created by humans human will and control
    have been exercised to create this wild animal
    it has been shaped for human purposes. People
    have selectively bred the animals for this
    quality of wildness and thus have actually
    created something which is regarded as natural,
    given by nature the toro bravo is culturally
    rather than naturally wild. (Marvin, 199490)

Nature vs culture, animal vs human
  • The corrida symbolises subordination of nature
    and making it cultural
  • It brings together, in the centre of human
    habitation, an uncontrolled, wild bull, an item
    from the realm of nature, and a man who
    represents the epitome of culture in that, more
    than any ordinary man, he is able to exercise
    control over his natural fear (the fear felt by
    the human animal), an essential prerequisite if
    he is to control the wild animal (Marvin, 1994

Male vs female
  • The torero is epitome of masculinity in Spain
  • Courage, dominance, control and assertiveness
  • Ambiguous masculinity suit of lights
  • Despite ambiguity of costume seen as
    inappropriate attire for a woman
  • women shouldnt be in the arena as performers

Male humanity
  • The necessary courage to confront the bull is
    biologically/sexually based, in the testicles
    toreros have to have cojones
  • For a woman to be a torera shed have to change
    her essential nature shed have to be a man,
    defined by sexual characteristics
  • But there are matadoras
  • Their femininity is denied, they must be lesbians

Christina Sanchez
  • the reality of being a woman in a male-dominated
    sport took its toll on the matadora. As her
    popularity grew, many successful male toreros
    refused to share billing with Sánchez. She became
    increasingly frustrated with the sports sexism
    and opted to retire in 1999. http//

Greyhound racing
  • Working class
  • Male dominated and masculinist
  • Norbert Eliass notion of the civilising
  • Violent sports a consequence of and mechanism for
    the advancement of social civility
  • Modern societies distanced from excitement
  • Sport is interactive context where moderate
    degree of violence permissible and encouraged

  • Like hunting or war killing by proxy
  • sports spectators are excited by the often rough
    and violent competitive exchange between the
    participants, yet feel neither guilt nor
    repugnance in watching the battles since they are
    not perceived as real (216)
  • But for the dogs their suffering isnt mimetic
    its real
  • Commodities within figuration of greyhound racing

Dog agility
  • training together, a particular woman and a
    particular dog, not Man and Animal in the
    abstract, is a historically located,
    multispecies, subject-shaping encounter in a
    contact zone fraught with power, knowledge and
    technique, moral questions and the chance for
    joint, cross-species invention that is
    simultaneously work and play. (Haraway, 2008

Contact zone
  • people and dogs work together to excel in an
    international competitive sport thats part of
    globalised middle-class consumer culture
    (Haraway, 2008207).
  • Gendered

  • how dogs and people learn to pay attention to
    each other in a way that changes who and what
    they become together (Haraway, 2008 208)
  • Her discussion of the contact zone is about
    power, knowledge and the meaningful material
    details of entanglements (216).
  • Ttransformative things happen in contact zones
  • Explores how different organisms, different
    species communicate with each other
  • Contact zones change those who become entangled

  • Agility is a sport designed by humans, dogs
    really enjoy it but its rule bound for humans
    and dogs
  • The human decides for the dog what is the
    acceptable criteria of performance
  • But The human must respond to the authority of
    the dogs actual performance (221)
  • She explores training in terms of freedom and

  • This gives the dog freedom, it loosens human
    control. The dog has the authority she knows
    what to do better than the human.
  • Once the human trusts the dog and recognises
    their authority then theyre a team, a
    cross-species team of skilled adults (225)
  • This involves communication between humans and
    dogs and response to each other which is face
    to face in the contact zone of an entangled
    relationship (227)

  • Inter-species play is an example of inter-species
  • Story of play between a donkey prey animal
    and a german-belgian shepherd cross predator.
    They know how to read each other.
  • Doing agility is about the coming together of
    human and dog and trust between species.
  • Its about becoming which makes each partner
    more than one but less than two.

Gender and class
  • Spectacles gendered and classed
  • Spectators and those who participate and produce
    the spectacle
  • Jockeys overwhelmingly male
  • On the flat 117 professional jockeys, 109 (93.2)
    men, 8 (6.8) women
  • National Hunt 89 professional jockeys 88 (99.8)
    men, 1 (1.1) women

  • Humans in control whether spectacle involves a
    symbolic re-enactment of the creation of culture
    through hunting and killing an animal or training
    dogs for agility.
  • But significant difference. The first 2 types of
    spectacle involve an assertion of dominance and
    control over another sentient being, or their
    commodification, or both.
  • The third type, agility, recognises that the
    animal is an important actor in the relationship
    and that inter-species communication, in work
    and play, is a two-way process.
  • Its a posthumanist approach which decentres
    human beings puts humans in partnership with
    other animals, working and playing with them, and
    becoming something more than a person and a dog.