Our Conflicted Relationships with Animals

People in the U.S. have conflicted and conflicting perceptions of animals…some we take into our homes and feed and care for and create legislation to protect, others we shoot, poison, eat, use for clothing and footwear, or to entertain our children. In this new book [Displaying Death and Animating Life: Human-Animal Relations in Art, Science, and Everyday Life by Jane C. Desmond] the author explores the strange, often diametrically opposed perceptions and relationships Americans have with animals. A case in point is the NPR book reviewer Alva Noë’s remarks as he injects his perceptions on the issue of pet burial…

“Perhaps precisely because there is, or continues to be, as it happens, something marginal, ridiculous or even outrageous about the very idea of a pet cemetery, these have become, [the book author] shows, places for creative and improvisatory engagement with death and mourning. Only a very small fraction of the millions and millions of American pet owners bury their deceased pets in designated pet graveyards. [The author] makes a good case, though, that such burial practices — she also explores the writing of pet obituaries — help us understand shifting conceptions of family and kinship…”


Why Do We Love Some Animals But Eat Others?



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