Fighting Nature: Travelling menageries, animal acts and war shows
Sydney University Press
Throughout the 19th century animals were integrated into staged scenarios of confrontation, ranging from lion acts in small cages to large-scale re-enactments of war. Initially presenting a handful of exotic animals, travelling menageries grew to contain multiple species in their thousands. These 19th-century menageries entrenched beliefs about the human right to exploit nature through war-like practices against other animal species. Animal shows became a stimulus for antisocial behaviour as locals taunted animals, caused fights, and even turned into violent mobs. Human societal problems were difficult to separate from issues of cruelty to animals.
Apart from reflecting human capacity for fighting and aggression, and the belief in human dominance over nature, these animal performances also echoed cultural fascination with conflict, war and colonial expansion, as the grand spectacles of imperial power reinforced state authority and enhanced public displays of nationhood and nationalistic evocations of colonial empires.
Fighting Nature is an insightful analysis of the historical legacy of 19th-century colonialism, war, animal acquisition and transportation. This legacy of entrenched beliefs about the human right to exploit other animal species is yet to be defeated.
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Praise for Fighting Nature
About the Author
Peta Tait FAHA is Professor of Theatre and Drama at La Trobe University and Visiting Professor at the University of Wollongong, and author of Wild and Dangerous Performances (2012).
Series Information: Animal Publics
The Animal Publics series publishes original and important research in animal studies by both established and emerging scholars. Animal Publics takes inspiration from varied and changing modalities of the encounter between animal and human. The series explores intersections between humanities and the sciences, the creative arts and the social sciences, with an emphasis on ideas and practices about how animal life becomes public: attended to, listened to, made visible, foregrounded, included and transformed. Animal Publics investigates publics past and present, and publics to come, made up of more-than-humans and humans entangled with other species.
Other titles in the Animal Publics series:
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