Displaying Death and Animating Life: Human-Animal Relations in Art, Science, and Everyday Life

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Product Details
University of Chicago Press
Publish Date
5.9 X 8.9 X 0.9 inches | 0.95 pounds

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About the Author
Jane C. Desmond is professor of anthropology and gender and women's studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of Staging Tourism, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
"This is a wonderful book. Desmond's writing moves between the scholarly and the personal, between the well-trained curiosity of the anthropologist and the deeply felt concern of an intimate friend in order to examine a range of practices from blockbuster exhibitions to marginalized memorials that address and engage interactions between human and non-human animal lives. In those practices she seeks to understand, and sometimes to change, the ways that non-human lives are and are not rendered meaningful, are and are not granted subjectivity. Indeed she reveals how animals are stripped of potential meaning and individuality in the human directed performances and displays of their bodily or species being and death."-- "Kari Weil, Wesleyan University"
"An important and moving book. Reading it is a bit like catching an unexpected glimpse of yourself in a reflection and being worried about what you see. How is it that we remain, as a culture, so largely unreflective about animals and their place in our lives?"-- "NPR"
"The boundaries between humans and other animals have themselves many boundaries, many margins, places where what counts as proper animal life--and death--is contested and uncertain. In this spellbinding book, Desmond takes us to the odd ends of taxidermy, to the limits of human mourning for animal companions, and to the edges of dominant sensibilities about animal aesthetic expression. Displaying Death and Animating Life promises to rearrange dominant definitions and deliberations about the matter of animal agency."-- "Stefan Helmreich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology"
"Desmond's fascinating book focuses on our engagement with animals in the practices of everyday life and death. With a remarkably accessible writing style that will appeal to a broad readership, she takes up some of the most important but rarely investigated topics in our relationship with other animals, including death mourning practices, roadkill, and exhibitions. Displaying Death and Animating Life makes a valuable contribution to animal studies and the legitimization of the multispecies family as a social unit and will provoke much discussion on the myriad ways human and animal lives are intertwined in co-constitutive worlds."-- "Linda Kalof, Michigan State University, author of Looking at Animals in Human History"
"This book is a unique source of 'food for thought' about the comparative value of human and nonhuman lives, and ultimately, the appropriate and inappropriate ways of displaying animal deaths. Through a series of selected anecdotes and case studies, the author takes a multidisciplinary approach to understudied areas within human-animal relationships, including museum exhibitions, burial and mourning practices, and artworks made by animals. A critical aspect of this work is the careful analysis of the various emotional and artistic expressions of animals' afterlife across different human societies. . . . The overarching implications of this book are extensive, as they address the meaning of a diverse range of lives. Recommended."-- "Choice"