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Animal-Human history

2018 October 26

Nick Brandt’s Elephant Footprints, Amboseli,2012

In recent years there has been a growth,particularly in academic works, about animals. Yet this becomes somewhat confusing with some people, for example, emphasising humans rather than animals.

This book edited with Philip Howell includes over 20 articles from a range of contributors and 30 illustrations. Here we are discussing an approach that focuses on the role of animals alongside the physical presences of animals and the function of historical or heritage works. In my own article I have considered the role of the dog at the Australian Eureka stockade in 1854 who saw the killing of various diggers. His master was killed.The dog jumped after his master’s corpse, lying on his breast and repeatedly howling.

The military attack on diggers became a key development in Australian democracy and identity, with all diggers acquitted having defended themselves from attack. It has become a key item for historians. Yet historians have not been particularly interested in the dog despite the accounts of his attitude towards his dead master recorded in nineteenth century archives. Only recently in 2014 the ‘Pikeman’s Dog’ has become a sculpture outside the local museum at Ballarat (near Melbourne).

Other animal-human articles here also focus on the role of particular animals in the past and present history in a range of countries.

I am pleased to include the image from Nick Brandt on the cover. Brandt has written that for between 10 and 20 years he has driven through countless areas (in Africa) where there had once been abundant animal life and which ‘now has been relentlessly wiped up.’ His most recent exhibition on the oppression of animals opens in Spring 2019 in a range of places, including London.

Unfortunately the cost of the 500 page hardbook is not offered to readers easily! But if you are linked to a library with funds – or belong to a journal reviewing books – then it would be worth thinking about this! (There is an ebook more realistically priced though I’m not sure how one can read the wider range of articles in this form.)




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