Mariam Motamedi Fraser
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Senta’s howl

This chapter begins by introducing the driving concept of the book: the concept of a ‘species story’, and how it is relevant to dogs, who constitute the empirical focus of Dog Politics. It also introduces readers to what Dog Politics considers to be the central achievement of species stories, which is the erasure of the singular individual animal as a figure of theoretical, methodological, ethical and political significance. As such, this discussion also necessarily includes some preliminary reflection on the concept of ‘the individual’. Having established what the book is about in the broadest terms, the introduction then sets the scientific ‘scene’ for Dog Politics: first, by explaining what is meant by, and what in this book will constitute, ‘the animal sciences’; second, by exploring how these sciences have secured hegemony over the study of animals historically and with what consequences for non-scientific knowledges today (and especially for ‘ordinary’ knowledges and for social science and humanities knowledges); and third, by using contemporary debates about the relations between the classical ethologist Konrad Lorenz’s life and work as a case study through which to illustrate the potentially dire consequences of ‘species thinking’, and the urgent need for transdisciplinarity in the study of animals. The final section of the chapter outlines the content of each of the chapters that follow.

In over a quarter of a century of training I have never met an animal who turned out to be replaceable.

(Hearne 1993: 2)

There is a story told about dogs, in the language of science. It is a story that usually, implicitly, claims to tell of all dogs, even though most of its central characters are dogs who live and work with humans in the Global North.1 It says that dogs ‘belong’ in some way with humans, and that the principal manifestation of this belonging is dogs’ responsiveness to humans. You and I might debate what kind of a dog a responsive dog is – is she a docile, biddable dog, or an engaged and lively dog? – but the bottom line is that a dog should be interested in the humans with whom they are closest. And, most often, dogs are. After all, their lives depend on it.

In his moving discussion of Beth in Bad Dog: Pit Bull Politics and Multispecies Justice, Harlan Weaver notes that, even though Beth’s guardians said that they relinquished her for behavioural reasons (biting other dogs etc.), Weaver himself suspects it was more likely on account of her ‘disinterest in humans’ (Weaver 2021: 162). If Weaver is right, then Beth, who was euthanised, paid for that disinterest with her life. Beth is the touchstone for this book. This book will argue that, if Beth’s death requires no ethical or political justification – that is, if the expectations that humans place on dogs, and the uses they make of them, pass largely without substantive comment – then this is in part because they are not perceived to be expectations and uses at all. For dogs belong with humans, so the story goes. Dogs, in fact, would not be dogs without humans.

The central claim of this book is that the lives of domesticated dogs in the Global North are in nearly all aspects shaped by a story that seeks to tie them irrevocably to humans and to naturalise dog–human intimacy. This story – broadly disseminated and embellished – originates in, and accrues its authority from, science: specifically, from a science of species that was invented much later than was dogs’ invention of themselves. At the heart of this story, the heart out of which so many other dog stories are pumped, are scientific accounts of dogs’ biological speciation – scientific accounts, that is, of how dogs came to be dogs. In this book, I will call such accounts dogs’ ‘species story’.

Speciation theories are key drivers of species stories not solely because they lay claim to how a group of individual animals came to be a species, but because these accounts of evolutionary becoming are often used to substantiate conceptions of what those animals are today. ‘It matters’, Donna Haraway writes, ‘what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots, what thoughts think thoughts, what descriptions describe descriptions, what ties tie ties’ (Haraway 2016: 12). And it surely does: as this book will illustrate, the story of how, precisely, a dog is understood to have become a dog contributes substantially to defining what a dog is expected to feel today; how a dog is expected to behave today; what treatment of dogs is justified today; and, above all, what about a dog passes almost unnoticed.

Species stories ascribe to groups of individual animals not just any history, or any set of characteristics, but histories and characteristics that are explicitly indexed to the concept of species in general and to ‘their’ mode of speciation in particular. In this way, species stories both foreground specific qualities as important and imply that they cannot, in any real sense, be transformed. There are other stories that bear on the ways the potentialities of animals are shaped but, given the authority of science, species stories usually represent themselves as the bottom line, the yardstick that defines the range and limits of an animal. This book will explore many different versions of dogs’ species story. Nearly all of them consider dogs to be virtually incomprehensible without humans.

There are exceptions. In A Dog’s World: Imagining the Lives of Dogs in a World without Humans, the bioethicist Jessica Pierce and ethologist Marc Bekoff pursue an experiment in ‘speculative biology’ (Pierce and Bekoff 2021: 8), which is to ask what would become of dogs in a world without humans. I will return to A Dog’s World in Chapter 5. Suffice it to note here that the fact that Pierce and Bekoff feel obliged to explain the independent existence of dogs (independent of humans) by way of a science fiction scenario speaks volumes about the intractability of dogs’ species story in canine science today. This book, Dog Politics, and Pierce and Bekoff’s book, A Dog’s World, are both critiques of how domesticated dogs are perceived and how they are treated on the basis of that perception. However, where A Dog’s World seeks to augur change for dogs in the present by conjuring up an imaginary future, Dog Politics does so by challenging an imaginary past. Where A Dog’s World contains its argument within the paradigm of species (just about), Dog Politics questions this paradigm. Where A Dog’s World looks to those few scientific studies of free-ranging dogs for insight into ‘who dogs are’ (Pierce and Bekoff 2021: 11), Dog Politics engages critically with scientific studies of dogs ‘who live in captivity’ (Pierce and Bekoff 2021: 11).2 Despite these significant differences, the agenda is similar: to loosen the human ties that bind the captive dog. ‘Whatever would become of you without me?’, their fictional owner asks. ‘A lot!’, whispers the dog in reply (Pierce and Bekoff 2021: 163).

Dog Politics rests on two assumptions: that species, in science and more broadly, is a core element in the conceptual architecture of thinking about animals, and that the exploitation of animals will continue to be the inevitable outcome of ethics and politics that refer back to species concepts. In this book, I will use the term species thinking purposely, as distinct from speciesism. I do so because, as Chapter 6 demonstrates, speciesism differs substantially from the term racism, and what the charge of racism is able to achieve, politically. Unlike the concept of racism, which is often a simultaneous effort to ‘undo’ the category of race, the concept of speciesism, I will argue, serves only to confirm animals as species. It seems impossible, at least for the time being, to wish species thinking away. Better, then, in my view – as a short-term strategy – to pay detailed critical attention to how species operate as stories. What forces does dogs’ species story mobilise? What ways of living and dying does it shape? What relations, especially with humans, does it prescribe?

This book will argue that one of the most serious consequences of species thinking is that, once a species rank has been established, species gives no scientific, ethical or political reason to be interested in particularity. The form of particularity that I will be especially concerned with in this book is the particular individual. At worst, species thinking does not ‘merely’ displace the individual; rather, it erases this figure entirely, with the consequence that individuals appear to be endlessly substitutable, one for another. In a recent seminar, a student told me that for the entirety of his life, a heron had perched on the bank of a lough near his home. And that for the entirety of his life, his family had referred to this heron as Frank, based on the sound of the heron’s call, fraaa-aaank. When he grew up (to be a marine ecologist), this student learned that the average life expectancy for a grey heron in the wild is five years.3 The story is salutary: it illustrates how easily particular individuals, who live and die, can be eclipsed by ‘immortal’ species.

I will use the term ‘individual’ very often during the course of this book. By it, I mean a kind of banal individuality: an individuality that is roughly equivalent to non-species particularity; that assumes no specific qualities, capacities or experiences in advance; and that is not loaded with notions of, for example, ‘personhood’, ‘agency’, ‘autonomy’ etc. The important point about this individual, as I will explore in Chapters 5 and 7 especially, is that it is irreducibly singular – although not necessarily singular in any exceptional sense (on this distinction, see Chapter 3) – and, as such, is irreplaceable. Probably, this minimal conception is zoocentric: it refers to an individual ‘who’, who is born once; dies once; and, between these two existential poles, endures in the world uniquely. This minimal conception of individuality, which I will use in this book, is not intended to be a contribution to the question as to whether or not dogs are subjects. On this complex topic I have no theory of my own to propose.

Alfred North Whitehead’s (1978; 1967) concept of an ‘enduring concrete percipient’ is my own preferred understanding of an ‘individual’. However, I do not draw on this concept in this book, or even introduce it until Chapter 7. The reason for this ‘omission’ is that I want to avoid technical terms that have the potential to disguise the implications, for animals and especially for dogs, of species thinking. Dog Politics will argue ultimately that dogs’ species story is a specific, entrenched and constraining order or pattern of becoming through which an idea of a dog is created. This idea is made material through practices such as socialisation, through the identification of dogs’ objections to their living conditions as problem behaviours, and through the endlessly reiterated song of ‘the bond’. It is an altogether dazzling performance. So dazzling, in fact, that you can barely see the dog who stands in front of you. The individual dog. Haraway writes that Isabelle Stengers’s cosmopolitics demands that ‘decisions must take place somehow in the presence of those who will bear their consequences’ (Haraway 2016: 12). Dogs’ species story is the ‘decision’ – the decision in Whitehead’s sense of the word (see Chapter 7) – that would shape an individual dog into an image of all dogs. I use ‘the individual’ in order to be clear about this, and about who it is that ‘bears the consequences’.

By ridding themselves of the ‘burden’ of individuals, species categories are simultaneously evacuated of those animals who would bear testimony, with their lives and also, importantly, with their deaths, to the violent implications of species thinking. Today, dogs are considered to be among the best researched and most interesting animal subjects across a wide range of scientific disciplines, from contemporary psychology and ethology to evolutionary anthropology and comparative genetics. Yet their welfare issues are often narrowly defined: determined less by what is important to that individual dog; less by that individual dog’s needs, wants, desires; and more by whether and how those issues impact upon the dog’s relations with humans (see Chapters 1, 4 and 7). Dogs’ species story accounts at least in part for this paradox: if dogs are, by definition, to be with humans, how significant can any welfare issue be, beyond how it affects the quality of that relationship?

This book argues, in essence, that the story of ‘companionship’ – companionship in its colloquial sense, not as Haraway understands it4 – is itself ‘the Greatest Story Ever Told’ (Haraway 2003: 5). And that the implications of this story for dogs are equivocal at best. Dog Politics analyses how this story is woven into broader scientific shifts in understandings of species, animals and animal behaviours. These shifts both inform and were/are informed by transformative political events, including slavery and colonialism, the Second World War and its aftermath, and the emergence of anti-racist movements in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. As well as exploring the consequences of dogs’ species story for dogs, then, this book also uses dogs’ species story as an empirical prism through which to refract a number of pressing topics pertaining to animals, and to how animals and animal behaviours are understood, in the animal sciences.

Animal sciences

In the title of this book, I use the term ‘animal sciences’ as a shorthand for the scientific study of animals. This focus on science means, in practice, that I will explore broad scientific debates that span several decades and disciplines – changing conceptions of evolution and inheritance, or of the relations between evolution and behaviour, would be examples here – as well as key scientific texts on dogs, and key scientific texts that use dogs to illustrate arguments about species and animal behaviours. I pay particular attention to evolutionary theory in the nineteenth century; to the complex triad of instinct, behaviour and ‘intelligence’ in the first part of the twentieth century; to the ‘cognitive revolution’ in the second part of the twentieth century; and to the continuing unfolding of that revolution’s implications in the twenty-first century. Authors addressed in detail include Charles Darwin and George Romanes; Conwy Lloyd Morgan; Konrad Lorenz; contemporary ethologists such as Marc Bekoff; and researchers associated with the ‘dog paper boom’ (Horowitz 2014b: vi) of the 1990s, for instance Gregory Berns, Brian Hare, Alexandra Horowitz, Ádám Miklósi and Clive Wynne.

Dog Politics offers a granular analysis of scientific texts that crystallise some of the trends, developments and ruptures in ways of thinking about dogs, as well as about animals more broadly. It puts these ways of thinking into dialogue with contemporary animal studies literatures in particular, and with social and cultural theory more generally. Inevitably, the trends, developments and ruptures it addresses were shaped in part by the growing institutionalisation and professionalisation of science in the nineteenth and early twentieth century in Europe and North America (see Chapter 3 in particular), and by the splintering of the life sciences into numerous sub-disciplines in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Typically, the research for this book was led to articles published in scientific journals in the fields of evolutionary biology, evolutionary anthropology, genetics, archaeology, comparative psychology, behavioural science, and classical and contemporary ethology. In the end, however, at least with regard to conceptions of ‘what is a dog?’, these disciplinary distinctions turned out to be of less significance, to many contemporary canine scientists, than the differences between pre- and post-1990s approaches to dogs (as discussed in Chapter 5).

My reason for focusing on science at all is because it is the principal site in which concepts of species have been, and continue to be, developed and disputed. This matters, because scientific expertise remains, today, one of the most authoritative forms of knowledge about animals. Where dogs are concerned, its authority is arguably on the rise. In her discussion of the ‘increased “scientification”’ (Włodarczyk 2018: 230) of contemporary dog training, Justyna Włodarczyk argues that although dog training has always been influenced by science, the training–science relationship is now especially ‘intense’, as illustrated by the way that scientists write specifically for trainers and often ‘moonlight’ as trainers themselves (231). ‘Wherever “science” will go now, dog training will follow’ (231).

The authoritative status of science, as the historian Keith Thomas and many others have demonstrated, comes at a price. Specifically, the ‘revolution in perception’ (Thomas 1984: 70) that was the birth of modern science was won at the expense of the marginalisation of other ways of ‘knowing’ animals, whether they be the ways of people who live and/or work with animals, or of people who have non-scientific and/or non-western relations with animals and the natural world. Thomas describes an eighteenth-century ostler, who, ‘after failing to answer a long series of questions put to him by a gentleman about the animal in his charge’, exclaims ‘“Ah, sir! … considering that I have lived thirteen years in a stable, tis surprising to think how little I knows of a horse”’ (Thomas 1984: 80–81, emphasis in the original). This historical marginalisation of ‘ordinary people’ (Thomas 1984: 70) is arguably on-going, and can be similarly identified today in the unstable working conditions and low pay of the majority of people who work with animals, but who are not deemed ‘professionals’: agricultural workers, dog walkers, people who run kennels and day care centres, many animal trainers, groomers, volunteers in the ‘animal sector’ etc. (for more details, see Coulter 2016: Chapter 1). Writing with Eddie Sweat in mind – who was ‘groom to the decorated and accomplished racehorse Secretariat’ and who ‘died in poverty’ (Coulter 2016: 26) – Lawrence Scanlan writes: ‘[n]‌o one understands [the] horse better than an astute and caring groom, and no one gets less credit’ (Scanlan in Coulter 2016: 30).5

By way of something of a sleight of hand, the sciences have historically claimed hegemony over the study of animals on not one but two grounds. The first is that theirs is the enquiry into biological processes and into behaviours that are believed to have their origins in these processes; the second that animals are nothing much but an aggregation of such processes and behaviours. These claims scale up the Cartesian mind/body dualism into a divided disciplinary landscape that is informed, profoundly, by human exceptionalism. To be crude: the (animal) body and the biological sciences belong together on the one hand, and the (human) mind and the social sciences and humanities belong together on the other.6 Yet the ‘naturalness’ of this division has recently become less persuasive, as scientists take as their object of study topics that were once considered proper to the domain of the social sciences and humanities, and from which, ‘necessarily’, animals have long been excluded. These topics include not only consciousness and reason, but also culture and sociality, deception, awareness of time and of death, emotions (including grief and psychic trauma), intentionality, agency, beliefs, perception, attention, interpretation, meaning, aesthetics, experience, creativity, memory, morality and humour. It is unclear, to me, whether the boundaries that define biology are swelling in order to absorb these new topics, or whether these topics are bringing about the collapse of those boundaries. But perhaps it does not matter. Jeffrey Bussolini, sociologist, philosopher and historian of technology, argues that recent developments in critical ethology and cognitive science (but one might now add a range of other scientific disciplines to these two) promise a ‘renaissance within every discipline – scientific, social scientific and humanities alike’ (Bussolini 2013: 188; my emphasis).

That renaissance is especially evident in the work of the European ‘philosophical ethologists’, as Bussolini and his colleagues dub them (Buchanan et al. 2014: 1), who have generously interpreted, built upon, amplified and transformed the implications of these new developments in science. Among them is Vinciane Despret, to whose work Dog Politics is particularly indebted (see for instance Chapter 5). Like other philosophical ethologists, Despret illustrates how ‘[t]‌here is much to be gained from a mixed-methods approach [to the study of animals] that incorporates ideas from across the traditional divides of the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities’ (Buchanan et al. 2014: 2). Instead of holding these disciplines apart, Despret shows how relations with science might be built without compromise, ‘to produce a broader field of inquiry within which animal mind and animal behavior can be more accurately interpreted’ (Bussolini 2013: 188).

Despite more than a decade of efforts on the part of Bussolini and others, most of the philosophical ethologists unfortunately remain largely unrecognised among anglophone researchers.7 But even without their work, non-science scholars today find justifiable reasons for learning from the life sciences. For example: in his engaging review of Eduardo Kohn’s (2013) How Forests Think, Philippe Descola proposes that, in order to take Kohn’s pansemiotic approach seriously, ‘a real investigation of how nonhuman life forms actually deal with iconic and indexical signs’ is required: ‘where Kohn says that he was led by the Runa to infer that an organism was interpreting a sign, we would also have liked to know what investigations on, say, animal ethology, cognition, and perception, or on biomimetism, or on plant communication, had to say about it’ (Descola 2014: 272, emphasis in the original). The expertise of biologists is problematic to be sure, but as Matthew Watson argues in his critique of Thom van Dooren’s (2016) article ‘Authentic crows’ – which he perceives as less engaged with biologists and conservationists than was Van Dooren’s (2014) Flight Ways – philosophical concepts such as performativity or becoming, while often helpful, are not in themselves a substitute for historical and ethnographic accounts of forms of life (Watson 2016: 166).

In short, the animal sciences must be taken seriously, for several important reasons. Nevertheless, some ambivalence is arguably justified, especially in the light of the longevity of disciplinary, conceptual and methodological trajectories, and the different ways they continue to give definition to the work of scientists. Although the persistence of species concepts is an exemplary illustration of this point – as this book will demonstrate – there is arguably a broader case to be brought against the colonisation of a field by way of any single concept or small cluster of concepts. (This is as relevant to social science and humanities scholarship as it is to science, which is in part why the promise of a multidisciplinary renaissance is so compelling). I make that broader case now by reflecting on the classical ethologist Konrad Lorenz’s ‘chronic preoccupation’ (Kalikow 2020) with species, a preoccupation that probably contributed to Lorenz’s decision to join the Nazi Party. Although it might be objected that Lorenz’s life choices were exceptional, this is, I think, to miss the point. The point is that his choices illustrate the potential gravity of the consequences, both intellectual and political, that can follow from the pursuit of a restricted conceptual repertoire.

Lorenz’s species thinking

The darker side of Lorenz’s aversion to analysing the developmental aspects of behaviour – an aversion that I will address in Chapter 3 of this book – can be identified in his ‘chronic preoccupation’ (Kalikow 2020: 267) not merely with instincts but, more specifically, with the degeneration of instincts by way of domestication in animals and civilisation in humans. Informed perhaps by his early training in comparative anatomy, Lorenz identified what he believed was a ‘homology between characteristics that animals have acquired during domestication and that humans have acquired through civilizing processes’ (Benvegnú 2018: 5). Lorenz found a receptive audience for his preoccupation with degeneration in the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP), of which he was a voluntary member. ‘There can be no denying’, the historian Richard Burkhardt writes, ‘that [Lorenz] claimed on numerous occasions that his research and ideas on animal behavior had a contribution to make to the race-political aims of the Third Reich’ (Burkhardt 2005: 232). Nor can there be any denying Lorenz’s enthusiasm for the Anschluss in and of itself, quite apart from the professional opportunities it promised. Nor that Lorenz worked for the Office for Race Policy in 1942, where he contributed to an assessment of the offspring of 877 mixed Polish–German couples. Some of those offspring, on the basis of that assessment, were sent to concentration camps; others were assigned to forced Germanisation. ‘[I]nvirent types’, Lorenz wrote, ‘threaten to penetrate the body of a people like the cells of a malignant tumor’ (Lorenz in Burkhardt 2005: 244, emphasis in the original).

Numerous scholars of science have since struggled with how to understand Lorenz’s legacy. Boria Sax, for example, has argued that the connection between Lorenz’s work and Nazi ideology tars the entirety of ethology, such that the history of the discipline – and indeed of all animal psychology – should be subject to reassessment, and its contemporary theories regarded with suspicion (Sax 1997).8 On the other hand, Theodora Kalikow, who has been researching Lorenz’s life and work since 1970, argues that it is ‘too simple to dismiss Lorenz as “always a Nazi”’ (Kalikow 2020: 271). Lorenz, she argues, was an opportunist who would attach his views on degeneration to whatever ideology was relevant in the moment: to fascism in the 1930s and 1940s; to antifascism as a prisoner of war in a Russian camp in the late 1940s;9 to anti-capitalism in his book On Aggression (2002c [1963]) in the 1960s; to ‘environmental stewardship’ (Kalikow 2020: 271) in the 1980s. One might add psychoanalysis to this list. Marga Vicedo argues that Lorenz ‘relied on his recognized scientific expertise to identify the mother as a main cause of degeneration … After World War II, it was no longer acceptable to blame morons for the degeneration of the race; but it was acceptable to blame mothers’ (Vicedo 2009: 290). The point, in short, is that Lorenz was more firmly committed to the concept of degeneration than he was to Nazism per se (Kalikow 2020: 271).

But Lorenz’s commitment to degeneration was surely tied up with his commitment to species – was possibly, even, a consequence of it. Degeneration, for Lorenz, is a cultural and/or genetic slide away, on account of the relaxation of natural selection, from – what? Arguably, from the best or some better way of being or embodying a species that, for Lorenz, was nearly always more ‘natural’ or more ‘wild’. As I will discuss in Chapter 3, ‘keeping animals’ was illuminating to Lorenz because he believed that, under kept conditions, inherited species behavioural structures underwent ‘abnormal’ changes, or did not manifest at all. In his earlier work, Lorenz associated these ‘abnormalities’ with an animal’s individual experience of captivity or ill health (Burkhardt 2005: 141). Later, he would associate them with ‘the degenerative effects of domestication’ (Burkhardt 2005: 142). In whatever sphere of life it occurs (politics, environmental degradation, mothering), degeneration, for Lorenz, always leads to extinction (the extinction of a species). Thus, despite the wide diversity of subjects to which Lorenz pinned the relevance of degeneration, the concept of species appears to be integral to them all.

Given Lorenz’s views on the odious implications of domestication, one might expect him to identify dogs as the most degenerate animals of all. Yet when Lorenz writes that ‘[t]‌here is no domestic animal which has so radically altered its whole way of living, indeed its whole sphere of interests, that has become domestic in so true a sense as the dog’ (Lorenz 2002b [1949]: ix), he writes admiringly. ‘The most highly domesticated dogs’, said Lorenz in Man Meets Dog, ‘are generally the most free and adaptable in their behaviour’ (Lorenz 2002b [1949]: 128). Lorenz’s positive assessment of dogs’ adaptability is unusual in his work. More commonly, Kalikow writes, Lorenz considered ‘departures from the “pure” wild animal forms in domesticated animals only as degeneration and symptoms of decline; hardly ever, as Charles Otis Whitman and others had observed, as openings for creative new adaptations or novel opportunities for learning’ (Kalikow 2020: 270).

Nevertheless, even if Man Meets Dog (2002a [1949]) – one of the best known of Lorenz’s popular books – is exceptional with regard to Lorenz’s position on the relationship between domestication and degeneration, Lorenz’s clear preference for what he called ‘Lupus dogs’ introduces a chilling ambiguity to the book. In both Man Meets Dog and King Solomon’s Ring (2002a [1949]), Lorenz identified two types of modern domesticated dogs, which he suggests are descended from two different ancestors: the golden jackal (Canis aureus) and the northern wolf (Canis lupus) (Lorenz 2002b [1949]: 1–18; Lorenz 2002a [1949]: 108–121). The descendants of Canis aureus, Lorenz argued, are the more ‘intelligent’, ‘faithful’ and conversable type of dog. ‘[B]‌ut for my own personal taste, all these dogs have lost too much of the primitive nature of the beast of prey. Owing to their extraordinary “humanness” they lack that charm of the natural which characterizes my wild “wolves”’ (Lorenz 2002b [1949]: 130). It was Lorenz’s belief ‘that humans [perceive] wild forms as beautiful and domestic forms as ugly’ (Burkhardt 2005: 250). He sought to illustrate this claim, in an article entitled ‘Domestication-caused disruptions of species-specific behavior’, by presenting ‘pairs of pictures contrasting the wild forms with their domestic counterpart’ (Burkhardt 2005: 250–251). In his correspondence with the biologist and ethologist Oskar Heinroth about the paper, Lorenz reported that he was planning to place an image of a wolf next to one of a pug. ‘“Or should I take the bulldog?” … “Stop! I’ll take the Pekinese!”’ (Lorenz in Burkhardt 2005: 251). Although Heinroth disputed that this is how humans perceive wild and domesticated forms, Lorenz went ahead and, in the end, included thirty-five pictures or drawings in his article.10

Better or worse fidelity to an ideal species identity was profoundly racialised in Lorenz’s work. As noted above, in Lorenz’s view, as in the Nazi view, the ‘better way’ was the wild and natural way, which is why city people came under particular attack. ‘Natural’ was also more ‘pure’, which is why ‘racial mixing’ was identified by Lorenz as mutagenic (Kalikow 2020: 268). It is relevant in this context that the Nazis argued that Jewish people were not a people at all, not a ‘distinct race, since they were allegedly so mixed that they had lost any primordial identity’, nor were they considered to be ‘integrated into any sort of landscape (biotic community or organische Lebensgemeinschaft)’ (Sax 1997: 13). Behind the deportations and genocides of the Holocaust lay the Nazi basic unit of analysis: not the individual, which they scorned for being bourgeois, but the species, the breed, the race, the Volk.

It is surprising to learn, in view of contemporary scholarship, that Lorenz’s On Aggression was one of Primo Levi’s ‘favourite readings’ (Benvegnú 2018: 4) and that Levi cited it in an essay in support of his theory that ‘racial intolerance has long-lost origins that are not only pre-historic, but pre-human’ (Levi in Benvegnú 2018: 4). This suggests that Levi, who was suspicious toward ‘intellectuals who had had any kind of official involvement with the Nazi regime’, probably did not know of Lorenz’s history (Benvegnú 2018: 5). Levi drew particularly, in his essay, on Lorenz’s chapter on rats, as he did in an interview in 1981, where he commented ‘that what Lorenz tells about aggression among different tribes of rats … is appalling, in conclusion it is the gas chambers’ (Levi in Benvegnú 2018: 5).

Perhaps the rats chapter in On Aggression was significant to Levi because it offers the clearest example of what Lorenz calls ‘“evil” in the real sense of the word’ (Lorenz 2002c [1963]: 152). His description here is striking, because On Aggression was expressly intended to dispute what Lorenz identified as the ‘classic psychoanaly[tic]’ conception of aggression as ‘a diabolical, destructive principle’ (44). In opposition to this principle, he sought to account for aggression either in terms of a species-preserving instinct (such as the even distribution of animals over a territory, selection for the strongest or brood defence (Lorenz 2002c [1963]: Chapter 3)), or in terms of an aggressive drive becoming ‘derailed under conditions of civilisation’ (27) (intraspecific competition between humans under commercial conditions would be an example here (38–39, 237)). Since rat ‘tribe’ aggression falls into neither of these two categories, and since Lorenz admits that he cannot identify any other external selection factor that could explain it, he concludes that ‘it is quite possible that the group hate between rat-clans is really a diabolical invention which serves no good purpose’ (158).

The appeal of this analysis to Levi is understandable. So horrific was Nazi racism and its consequences that it obliged Levi to cast his net widely for an origin of or explanation for it. For me, however, the fact that ‘evil’ is Lorenz’s only answer to behaviour, when behaviour cannot be answered for by species, is indicative of how restricted and restrictive Lorenz’s thinking had become, and how dysfunctional. Critiques of Lorenz most often focus, rightly, on the kinds of concepts he deployed, and the kinds of arguments he made. Also significant, however, as I noted earlier, is their narrowness. I take the title of this introduction, ‘Senta’s howl’, from an anecdote told by Lorenz in Man Meets Dog (Lorenz 2002b [1949]: 124). Senta was Lorenz’s own dog, and the ‘long wolf-like howl’ (124) she sounded concludes one of Lorenz’s experiments, in which he ‘planted’ a dingo pup into Senta’s litter and then watched as Senta battled with what he describes as the conflict between the ‘brood-tending instinct’ and the ‘brood-defence instinct’. I will return to Senta’s howl in Chapter 3. For now, I ask it to stand as both a protest and a caution. As a protest and a caution against reductionism, against single-concept explanations (instincts, species), and against the imperialistic assumption that animals’ behaviours can be explained by any single discipline or field. After all, to suggest – as Lorenz did – that just one concept, or just a handful of concepts, or just one discipline, or just one field, could ever answer for human life, would be nothing less than a moral outrage.

Studies of and with animals

What can be done to avert the colonisation of a discipline or set of disciplines by a single concept, or a bundle of related concepts? The breadth and depth of a mature discipline11 may ward against this to some degree. But a single discipline, no matter how broad and deep it is, cannot suffice in itself against conceptual reductionism, in part on account of ‘the fact’, as Cary Wolfe writes, ‘that (by definition) no discourse, no discipline, can make transparent the conditions of its own observations’ (Wolfe 2010: 116, emphasis in the original). In a commemorative special issue of Animal Biology on Nikolaas Tinbergen’s famous ‘four questions’ paper (Tinbergen 2005 [1963]), entitled ‘Four decades on from the “four questions”’, the zoologist Aubrey Manning wrote: ‘[e]‌thology’s enormous contribution was to reawaken the serious study of any animal behaviour, taking into account the selection pressures imposed by the environment in which it has evolved. In this sense it continues to dominate animal behaviour studies; we are all ethologists now’ (Manning 2005: 289). I have to disagree. When it comes to research with animals, we are not all ethologists now, and nor, more importantly, should we be.

‘Ethology is at work’, Jocelyn Porcher and Tiphaine Schmitt write, ‘where sociology would do better’ (Porcher and Schmitt 2012: 56). Porcher makes this statement in the context of her analysis of cow labour and, for sure, the questions raised by her research – ‘Do cows have a subjective interest in work? Does work enhance their sensibility, their intelligence, and their capacity to experience life? Can cows derive from work what humans derive from it?’ (Porcher and Schmitt 2012: 56) – benefit from the insights of a discipline (sociology) that has long investigated and analysed experiences of work and the social, political and affective forces that organise work. But much of the productive direction of Porcher’s research, as Porcher herself would be the first to admit, was shaped by the farmers themselves (Despret 2008), whose knowledges are among those that have been marginalised throughout the history of the natural and life sciences. And it was shaped also by the cows, whose species story differs from that of dogs, and whose contribution, therefore, is specific to their modes of becoming ‘cow’ (see Chapter 4). All these knowledges – of ethology and sociology and farmers and this group of cows and are arguably necessary to avert the perilous consequences that potentially follow from an unyielding commitment to an overly narrow conceptual (and methodological) framework. Together, in part because they are potentially competing, conflicting and contradictory, these ‘knowledges’ can do more than expose each other’s conditions of possibility. They can also invent the ‘problem’ they are addressing differently (Motamedi Fraser 2012). In this book, the problem is species thinking.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Burkhardt writes, ‘[i]‌t was highly plausible to claim a role for the study of animal lives and behavior within the broader whole of the life sciences, but exactly where such work would fit – be it epistemologically, methodologically, or institutionally – was by no means a foregone conclusion’ (Burkhardt 2005: 3). Today, as I have already indicated, it is not quite as plausible, or obvious, that the life sciences, and biology in particular, are the only or the proper home for the study of animals and animal behaviours. To be clear: I am not opposed to the scientific study of animals. On the contrary, I welcome it. The issue is rather the domination of the study of animals by scientists, which often excludes alternative conceptions of and relations with animals. The story of dogs’ becoming, with its real-life implications for dogs – which is the focus of this book – illustrates the harsh consequences that often flow from such exclusion, in practice.

There are alternative traditions in science – minor traditions – to draw on. The work of Charles H. Turner (1865–1923), the first African American to publish in the journal Science (Abramson 2009: 346), was distinguished by its focus on individual insects who do not follow species scripts. ‘Psychological notes upon the gallery spider’, published in 1892 in Journal of Comparative Neurology, is an entrancing read (Turner 1892). In it, the twenty-five-year-old Turner, who had only just, in that same year, received his M.Sc. from the University of Cincinnati, describes thirty-six instances of spiders building webs under natural conditions and in controlled experiments of his own devising. In the article, Turner illustrates that ‘[u]‌nder the same external conditions, individuals of the same species construct dissimilar webs’ and ‘that under the same external conditions the same individual constructs webs that are quite different’ (Turner 1892: 109). ‘Was this web’, Turner asks again and again, ‘the result of blind instinct? I think not’ (96).

One explanation for Turner’s obscurity is that he was ahead of time – more than a century ahead – with regard to scientific thinking on animal cognition, emotions and intentionality. Despite his momentous achievements – including sixty-seven scientific papers, many of which were cited by luminaries such as Edward Thorndike, John Broadus Watson, Margaret Washburn, Theodore C. Schneirla and Karl von Frisch (Abramson 2009: 347; Dona and Chittka 2020: 530) – Turner never secured a professorship in a major university. Instead, as William E. B. Du Bois rightly laments, he ‘died in a high school of neglect and overwork’ (Du Bois in Abramson 2009: 248). A fuller explanation, therefore, might be that Turner was ahead of his time because the racist discrimination he faced prevented him from shaping his time, and from creating a different kind of inheritance (Despret 2015b) for future animal investigators. Where would an inheritance, bequeathed by an entomologist who disputes that species scripts can answer for individual animal behaviours, lead?

Chapter outlines

The remainder of this introduction outlines the contents of the book, chapter by chapter. These chapters can be read independently of each other. Together, however, they deepen the argument of Dog Politics, which is to be found in the book as a whole. Chapter 1 opens with a brief discussion of the elision of dog ‘intelligence’ with dog obedience to humans. It situates this elision in the context of a long European history in which the perception of dogs as useful animals had a part to play in colonial ‘civilising’ projects and, relatedly, in the development of scientific racism. But then I ask: are we not done with obedience today? Drawing on Justyna Włodarczyk’s research on ‘affirmative biopolitics’ in contemporary dog training – in which ‘having fun’ and ‘dog happiness’ apparently mark a new and more positive chapter in dog–human relations – I suggest, somewhat counterintuitively, that the answer to this question is no.

This sets the scene for the major part of the discussion in Chapter 1, which is intended as a first step toward the de-naturalisation of dogs’ species story. Drawing on research by canine scientists and canine behavioural professionals – with a methodological comment on my use of this research in this chapter – my focus here will lie on the considerable and not always successful efforts that are required, on the parts of both humans and dogs, to ensure that dogs’ ‘destiny’ (with humans) is realised. I do this by way of an analysis of dog socialisation (its origins, its ‘deity’ status, its complexity) and the consequences of the failure of socialisation for dogs (dogs’ so-called ‘behavioural problems’). The troubles that were seen to have pursued the cohort of dogs who were born and raised during the COVID-19 pandemic (2019–2023) – the so-called ‘pandemic puppies’ – should not, I argue, be considered exceptional; rather, they shine an exceptionally bright light on the routine intolerability that characterises the conditions under which many domesticated dogs live in the Global North. Finally, I also address in this chapter the roles played by canine behavioural professionals in highlighting, mediating and sometimes repairing the gap between the widespread ‘fascination’ (Włodarczyk 2018: 231) with dogs, and how dogs live in practice.

Chapter 2 turns to dogs’ species story itself. This is the story of ‘how dogs became dogs’ as it is understood, discussed and debated in the fields of genetics, archaeology, behavioural ecology and canine science. One of the most significant elements of this story concerns the relation between dog speciation and dog domestication. Did dogs become dogs before they were domesticated? Or did dogs become dogs by way of domestication? The answer to this question is important because, if it is the latter – and most scientists favour the latter explanation – then this is a story that conflates speciation with domestication and, in that gesture, installs humans at the very heart of the evolutionary becoming of dogs. But is it true? Chapter 2 is an interrogation of how proof of dog speciation/domestication is established, what evidence exists to support it, and what role dogs themselves play in disrupting it. In all, the aim of this chapter is to illustrate that dogs’ species story is told with unwarranted confidence. But it is also to demonstrate, importantly, that it is a story that wields substantial power, authority and influence.

It is worth noting also that Chapter 2 is bookended by two interrelated topics that are important to Dog Politics: time, and the relations between species and ‘race’. Chapter 2 begins with a discussion of why Darwin’s theory of evolution – or rather, why Darwin’s presentation of his theory to his Victorian public, which greatly relied on dogs – lends itself to such confusion with regard to the evolutionary relations between species (to the relations between, for example, dogs and wolves). Part of the answer, as I will illustrate, lies in the difficult-to-grasp distinction between evolution as processes that occur over time, and evolution as the product of time. In Chapter 6, I return to examine the significance of this distinction in detail, as it shapes both historical and contemporary conceptions of, and analyses of the relations between, species and ‘race’. My discussion at the end of Chapter 2 is preliminary to this. It illustrates how easily (if not how inevitably) species and ‘race’ can be conflated, when the different temporal scales of biological speciation and political racialisation are not available to distinguish them. This is what happens in Raymond and Lorna Coppinger’s (2016) theory of dog speciation, in which the identities and durations of species and of ‘race’ are rendered equivalent by the ecological niche.

One of the reasons why it is important to unpack dogs’ species story in all its dimensions – empirical, theoretical, methodological, political, ethical etc. – is that, like all species stories, it plays an important role in explaining dog behaviours today. Conversely, ‘the ways dogs behave today’ is often used to fine-tune and firm up their species story. Chapter 3 thus addresses some of the ways that species identities and behaviours come to be connected to each other in science, and with what implications for animals as individuals. Since this connection is usually understood to be generic (all species identities and behaviours are linked in this or that way), I use dogs here only by way of example. The chapter explores three foundational traditions in the scientific study of animals: classical ethology; comparative psychology; and ‘anecdotalism’, which, although associated with Charles Darwin and Georges Romanes, continues to trouble contemporary canine science and, in particular, contemporary canine ethology. In some ways, these traditions could not be more different from each other. I will be touching, for example, on some of the postwar political conflicts between classical ethology and comparative psychology, conflicts that informed and were informed by their differing conceptions of the species–behaviour relation. As for anecdotalism: so different is it from every other school of thinking, one might imagine that it stands outside science altogether. But this is precisely my point in Chapter 3: despite the rifts that apparently separate their theories, methodologies and politics, these traditions are united in at least one thing, which is their reliance on species as the final explanation of animal behaviour, and their subsequent transformation of individual animals into species ambassadors.

Chapter 4 returns me to the particularity of dogs’ species story. Having addressed, in Chapter 2, how scientists debate this story among themselves, and, in Chapter 3, some of the nuances of the species–behaviour relation, I bring these analyses together to examine what happens when scientists take their positions on dogs out into the public domain. My focus in the first part of Chapter 4 is on two popular science books: The Genius of Dogs: Discovering the Unique Intelligence of Man’s Best Friend (Hare and Woods 2020a), co-authored by Vanessa Woods and the evolutionary anthropologist Brian Hare (who is credited with being among those scientists who, in the late 1990s, kickstarted the contemporary interest in canine research), and Dog Is Love: The Science of Why and How Your Dog Loves You (Wynne 2020a), by the behaviourist Clive Wynne. These books – both of which are representative of a genre – are important because they give flesh to the abstract debates that characterise scientific accounts of dog speciation and, in doing so, expatiate their implications for dogs in practice. As well as addressing the empirical implications that follow for dogs, this chapter also interrogates their political consequences.

Chief among those consequences is that dogs’ labour for and with humans, a labour that includes companionship, is rendered entirely ‘natural’. Not the work itself – hardly ‘natural’, to seek out an explosive – but the being with humans: this is natural, so natural that the significance of what, specifically, a dog is doing with humans all but dissolves. Rather than describe dogs’ labour as ‘work without a subject’, therefore – which is Jocelyn Porcher’s description of labour that is wrongly seen to be instinctive – I will argue that dogs are ‘subjects without work’. Although I draw on Porcher’s theory of animal labour to make this case and to explore its implications, the particularity of dogs’ species story, as it is described for example by the scientists I explore in the first half of this chapter, also forces me to critique it, and to critique Porcher’s implicit assumption that her account of labour applies equally to all domesticated animals. Animals are made into species differently. The distinct story by which dogs are made into species – and ascribed particular characteristics (the propensity to ‘bond’), skills (‘genius communication’) and needs (‘love’) – transforms, in my view negatively, the meaning of the human–animal ‘link’ that Porcher claims gives value to the labour of domesticated animals. How, for dogs, can ‘the link’ that is established through work be a route into a ‘second nature’ when their species story defines that link/bond as the very essence of their nature? Debates about animal labour are complex and multifaceted, as the conclusion of this chapter acknowledges. I note here that while labour, in my view, cannot and should not wholly define the relations between humans and domesticated animals, as Porcher proposes, it can offer some useful insights into how the lives of domesticated animals are organised. Attention to the time of labour in particular, I suggest, is especially helpful with regard to understanding the lives of dogs, who often spend a lifetime servicing ‘the bond’.

Previous chapters have addressed the serious trouble that dogs’ species story makes for dogs. In Chapter 5, I turn to the trouble that the story makes for scientists – for the very scientists who are writing it. Dogs’ evolutionary, genetic and social ‘convergence’ with humans, the zoologist James Serpell writes, places ‘the dog in an unusual position relative to other animals’ (Serpell 2017: 302). One site where this ‘convergence’ makes a difference, according to canine scientists, is in canine science itself. For ‘the bond’ is unquestionably compromising in numerous kinds of ways. It is a problem to see dogs as ‘outside’ nature, for instance, but it is equally a problem to see human social life as the ‘natural’ environment for dogs. The formation of dog–researcher relationships has consequences for research, but so does evading such relationships. And so on. In Chapter 5 I move back and forth between the methodological problems raised by scientific research with dogs – regarding, for example, what kinds of generalisable claims are possible, given that ‘bonds’ are in practice usually specific and relational – and Vinciane Despret’s model of ‘polite’ research. I do so because polite research similarly addresses itself (albeit for different reasons) to the roles that particular social and non-social relations play in enabling or not the capabilities and characteristics of an animal research subject. One question above all motivates this discussion: how do these methodological debates contribute to strengthening or undoing dogs’ species story?

Dogs’ species story raises methodological issues not only for those scientists who are committed to it, but also for those who oppose it. In the second part of the chapter, I analyse what methodological implications follow from the efforts of bioethicist Jessica Pierce and ethologist Marc Bekoff to distance themselves from any biological category or concept that leads to generalisations about dogs, including the generalisation that dogs cannot be understood without reference to humans. In place of generalisation, and like Despret, Pierce and Bekoff rarely fail to foreground the scientific significance of particularity. But where, for Pierce and Bekoff, particularity assumes the form of a particular, non-relational, individual, for Despret, the form of the individual is the product of a particular apparatus, and its relations. Where do these seemingly irreconcilable positions leave dogs? The third part of this chapter finds, in the space between an uncritical conception of individuality on the one hand, and intersubjectivity on the other, another figure of methodological significance: not the individual subject whose capabilities are independent of the research apparatus, nor the relational subject whose capabilities are defined by the apparatus, but rather a minimal individual whose importance lies less in any capability or characteristic at all, and more in an irreducible singularity that is itself a form of ‘resistance’ to scientific experimentation and explanation. I illustrate this argument, and ask what broader conclusions might issue from it for dogs’ species story, through an analysis of Martin Seligman’s controversial ‘learned helplessness’ experiments, which are tragically illuminating precisely on account of their cruelty.

Chapters 1 through 5 refer to the concept of species without attempting to define it. In the final analysis chapter in this book, Chapter 6, I address species concepts directly, and therefore also concepts of ‘race’. As many theorists have illustrated, species and ‘race’ have been historically, and are today, bound up in each other. This chapter explores how changing notions of species and of ‘race’ in science shape the forms and directions that the prejudicial exchanges between them will take. The advent of population thinking is especially significant here, I will argue, because although population thinking could, potentially, have transformed the meaning of the categories of both species and ‘race’, in the event it did not. Instead, population thinking contributed to the de-biologisation and politicisation of ‘race,’ and to the contraction of its temporality to the specific durations of forms of racialisation and racism. Species, by contrast, continues today to languish almost wholly in biology, and in the yawning time of evolutionary change. One consequence is that species (especially zoological species) appear to be effectively ‘fixed’.

In Chapter 6, I twice excavate the political significance of these contemporary differences between species and ‘race’. First, by way of a critical analysis of two readings of Darwin’s famous parasol anecdote, which describes ‘the behaviour of a dog on a sunny afternoon’ (Chidester 2009: 64). These readings are illuminating on account of their worryingly optimistic conclusions – or more specifically, on account of the reason for their optimism, which is possible only because the authors fail to appreciate the implications of the different ways that species and ‘race’, and especially the temporal relations between them, were conceived of in the nineteenth century, as compared to how they are conceived of today. Second, I ask how the consequences of these contemporary differences bear on a specific group of dogs, a group of pit bull types, which has been much discussed in animal studies literature, and in the public domain more broadly. This is the Michael Vick dog fighting controversy.

As well as demonstrating the violent real-life repercussions of the traffic between racism and speciesism for humans and for dogs (as they both overlap and differ), my discussion in this chapter represents the beginning of an answer to a question that has thus far lain silent in this book: if species categories erase the relevance of particularity, by what routes are animals enabled to ‘recover’ it? Drawing on Foucault’s analysis of racist biopower, I argue that the racialisation of pit bull types as ‘black’ (Kim 2015) and as ‘white’ (Weaver 2021) represent a rebarbative individuation and individualisation, respectively, of them. What is significant here is that, either way, the dogs are reconstituted as individual constituents of a population – of a population of dangerous dogs or, alternatively, of a population of dogs at risk of an unjust death. This change of assignment (from species to populations, or, more accurately, to populations as well as to species) serves to lift these dogs out of the ‘deathlessness’ of species and to confer on them the ‘privilege’ of a death that either counts, or matters. I should record here that this argument is not intended to replace ostensibly fixed biological species with temporary and contingent politicised populations (as I discuss in Chapter 7). Rather, it is an attempt to better illuminate, by way of the contrast between them, how species categories operate in practice, and with what implications for animals.

The concluding chapter of Dog Politics reflects on the core themes and issues raised by the book as a whole. It pivots around Lynda Birke’s question, posed in her article ‘Naming names – or, what’s in it for the animals?’ (Birke 2009), as to what animals have to gain from animal studies research. My own answer begins by returning, once again, to the individual. What exactly, I ask, is problematic about this figure in animal studies, and in social and cultural theory more broadly? What is problematic about it for humans, and what for animals? What alternatives are available? In keeping with the subject of this book, I confine my discussion of these questions to the individual as it is understood, by social scientists, to have been constituted or dismantled in and through science. I explore the Cartesian individual subject as the representative figure for modern science, a figure cleaved from animals, and the potential threat to that subject from the direction of evolutionary developmental biology that insists that ‘we have never been individuals’ (Gilbert et al. 2012: 336).

Challenges to biological individuality are important in themselves, and also lend force and vitality to social science understandings of ‘the world’ (or worlds, or worldings) in terms of becomings, relatings, entanglement etc. Nevertheless, having defined again what I consider to be at stake in the figure of the individual for animals – and why, therefore, I am loath to lose it – I find my own, less problematic, alternative both to the individual modern subject and to relational entanglement in Alfred Whitehead’s concept of an enduring percipient (Whitehead 1978, 1967). The concept of an enduring percipient is especially valuable in the context of this chapter because it offers something of a ‘rough guide to relevance’, a guide to anticipating whether and how an event might become relevant from an individual’s ‘point of view’. I use this guide to return once again to Birke’s question, and to ask what’s in it for the animals, in these debates about the individual and relationality in the sciences and especially the social sciences.

The final parts of this chapter and this book explore again how species thinking, in erasing the significance of animals as individuals, simultaneously erases a most important source of evidence of violence against them: their very ‘selves’, their bodies, their lives, their deaths. What then is to be done with species? I respond to this question by reflecting on the value of different ways of challenging species, and on what my own understanding of ‘species stories’ offers in this regard. Dog Politics closes, as it must, with a discussion of dogs and humans, and what the ‘reconstruct[ion] [of] our relations’ (Delon 2020: 172) might involve. My focus here lies on love, and on the problems human love of dogs poses for dogs.


1 In Chapter 5, I will explore the limitations and problems (especially the methodological problems) that are raised by the concentration of scientific research on these particular dogs, for scientists and more broadly.
2 Although the vast bulk of scientific research focuses on captive dogs, such dogs constitute only 15–20 per cent of the total global dog population, which probably numbers around 1 billion. See Coppinger and Coppinger (2016: Chapter 2) and Pierce and Bekoff (2021: 26–28, 168–171n) for detailed discussions of numbers of dogs in the world, and how they are counted.
3 My thanks to Alexander McMaster for giving me permission to recount his story.
4 When Haraway discusses ‘companion species’, she is hardly referring to companionship between two individuals of different species (!). On the contrary, for her, ‘companion species’ signifies ‘[a]‌ bestiary of agencies, kinds of relatings, and scores of time [that] trump the imaginings of even the most baroque cosmologists’ (Haraway 2003: 6).
5 This is not to suggest that ‘folk expertise’ (Delon 2020: 169) is necessarily better for animals than other forms of expertise. As Nicolas Delon notes, people who work with animals might not be best positioned to interpret animal signals because the work itself, with its ‘[s]‌pecific aims, values and needs’, may ‘shape what signals to pay attention to’ (Delon 2020: 169; see also D’Souza et al. 2020: 108).
6 So engrained is this division that many scientists today appear not to be aware that animals are studied across numerous ‘non-life-science’ disciplines. I have recently been involved in an interesting and illuminating dialogue with a well-known animal welfare behaviourist, who mentioned in passing that they had no idea that there was so much interest in animals beyond the sciences.
7 One of the reviewers of this book, for instance, noted anecdotally that few US colleagues in animal studies or anthrozoology would be familiar with their work. It is welcome news indeed, therefore, that Matthew Chrulew – who, along with Bussolini and Brett Buchanan, edited three special issues of the journal Angelaki on the scholarship of Despret, Dominique Lestel and Roberto Marchesini (see Buchanan et al. (2014) for a general introduction to this project) – is now editor of the Animalities series at Edinburgh University Press, which will soon be translating and publishing some of Despret’s, Lestel’s and Jocelyn Porcher’s books into English (on Porcher, see especially Chapter 4 of this book).
8 In partial response to this, I think it is worth recalling that, even though Lorenz’s name often appears to be synonymous with ethology (Buchanan 2008: 37), ethology cannot be reduced to Lorenz. Animal psychology flourished under National Socialism. But National Socialism was neither witness to the birth of ethology – the name was first coined in 1902 (Burkhardt 2005: 3) – nor was it the moment during which its key, enduring concepts were developed. This moment might alternatively be located in the mid-1950s, when Nikolaas Tinbergen, in rich appreciation of critiques of his and Lorenz’s early work, defined ethology as ‘the biological study of behaviour’ (Tinbergen 2005 [1963]: 299, emphasis in the original) and identified, in his four questions (of causation, survival value, ontogeny and evolution), what such a study would include. It is also worth noting that Karl von Frisch and Tinbergen – the two other recipients of the 1973 Nobel Prize – had very different experiences of the war (see for example Kalikow (2020): 269 on Frisch, and Burkhardt (2005): 374 on Tinbergen).
9 For a short account of Lorenz’s experience of being a prisoner of war, see Sokolov and Baskin (1993).
10 This article is one of a series that Lorenz published in 1940, which scholars consider to be ‘particularly noteworthy as examples of [Lorenz’s] efforts to highlight the ideological value of his research’ to Nazism (Burkhardt 2005: 250). Sax argues that the ideas in these articles formed the basis of Lorenz’s ‘popularizations’ (Sax 1997: 18). Certainly, the ‘before’ and ‘after’ sketches of ‘overbred’ Chows that Lorenz includes in Man Meets Dog (Lorenz 2000b [1949]: 87) bears some testimony to this.
11 Which ethology was well on its way to becoming by the time Tinbergen wrote ‘On aims and methods of ethology’ in 1963. In it, Tinbergen admitted that his and Lorenz’s early models of innate behaviour had been both too sweeping and too simplified, that they had not attended enough to learning, and that the study of ‘causes’, usually understood as internal physiological motives, had taken too much precedence over the study of survival (Tinbergen 2005 [1963]); Burkhardt 2005: 426–434).
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Dog politics

Species stories and the animal sciences


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