Fans of Hendrik Hartog's classic "Pigs and Positivism" might be intrigued by this new release from Harvard University Press: Animal City: The Domestication of America, by Andrew A. Robichaud (Boston University). A description from the Press:
Americans once lived alongside animals. They raised them, worked them, ate them, and lived off their products. This was true not just in rural areas but also in cities, which were crowded with livestock and beasts of burden. But as urban areas grew in the nineteenth century, these relationships changed. Slaughterhouses, dairies, and hog ranches receded into suburbs and hinterlands. Milk and meat increasingly came from stores, while the family cow and pig gave way to the household pet. This great shift, Andrew Robichaud reveals, transformed people’s relationships with animals and nature and radically altered ideas about what it means to be human.Advance praise:
As Animal City illustrates, these transformations in human and animal lives were not inevitable results of population growth but rather followed decades of social and political struggles. City officials sought to control urban animal populations and developed sweeping regulatory powers that ushered in new forms of urban life. Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals worked to enhance certain animals’ moral standing in law and culture, in turn inspiring new child welfare laws and spurring other wide-ranging reforms.
The animal city is still with us today. The urban landscapes we inhabit are products of the transformations of the nineteenth century. From urban development to environmental inequality, our cities still bear the scars of the domestication of urban America.
“Based on exhaustive research, Animal City provides a rich description of nineteenth-century human and animal lives, including the landscapes, laws, economies, and institutions that shaped them. Robichaud has made a landmark contribution to how we understand this formative period in American urban and animal history.”—Peter Alagona
“In ways that can seem unimaginable today, urban animals played a major role in shaping how nineteenth-century Americans debated laws, considered the boundaries of brutality, transformed economies and environments, and ultimately understood themselves. Through masterful storytelling and deep historical research, Andrew Robichaud paints this ecologically diverse urban world in vivid colors, showing readers that we cannot understand modern cities without acknowledging their controversial and often invisible animal past.”—Catherine McNeurMore information is available here.
-- Karen Tani