The Modern Animal explores transformations in human-animal relationships in the trans-Atlantic world from the early nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth century. In tracking four major emergences - the beginnings of the early animal welfare movement, the rise of agribusiness, the origins of the conservation movement, and the development of the animal entertainment industry - it illuminates how material practices involving animals occasioned shifts in prevailing cultural constructions of animality, and likewise, how an array of cultural forms shaped the making of human-animal relations. In so doing, it argues that rapidly changing ideas of animality were intimately bound up with historic shifts in the construction of gender, the production of sexuality, and the particularization of racial difference. In telling the story of the modern animal, then, it reads transformations in U.S. social formation as part of a history that is not human, or not solely.
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