Sunday, 23 September 2007

Alienation, Neoliberalism and Pet-Love in the 21st Century

In keeping with this blog's mission statement, here is a link to an excellent piece of "critical geography" concerned with the commodification of companion animals in the context of post-industrial neo/bioliberal societies. Not the least of the interest has to do with the way it contests and complicates Donna Haraway's recent claim that companion animals are subjected to infantilization. It seems these relationships are considerably more complicated than Haraway has realised. Evidence that this may be so can be adduced from investigation of the globalisation of subcultures of "furries" (humans dressing and acting as animals) and "doga" (i.e. dog yoga) and formal dancing with dogs. It seems to me that there is potentially much material in this study amenable to wider cross cultural comparisons, or rather comparative modernities. The study cites evidence from the Republic of Korea and China for example, but I recall a year or so back on Foreign Correspondent a story about furry culture in Japan, in particular clubs where young single women would go to relax for afterwork drinks with male hosts dressed in animal costumes. One interviewee explained the rationale for her patronage as having to do with the lack of venues where young women can go by themselves in Tokyo without feeling threatened. But the reliance on furry imagery to convey cuteness and safety in the first instance is itself obviously very complicated and worthy of more detailed investigation.

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