Dog politics

Species stories and the animal sciences

Mariam Motamedi Fraser
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Everywhere dogs are found, they are stitched into human hearts. But are humans stitched into dogs’ hearts? Countless celebrations of ‘the dog–human bond’ suggest that they are. Yet ‘the bond’ does not always come easily to dogs. Dog Politics seeks to denaturalise, in different ways, dogs’ ‘species story’, the scientific story that claims that being with humans somehow constitutes dogs’ evolutionary destiny. This book asks what evidence exists for this story; what choices dogs have but to go along with it; and what expectations, demands and burdens it places on dogs, on a daily basis. In doing so, it offers an unfamiliar and discomfiting account of the lives of domesticated dogs’ today. Dog Politics is an empirical investigation of dogs in science that makes important theoretical contributions to debates of contemporary significance. It addresses how the connections between animal behaviours and species identities are established in theory and practice. It analyses the enduring entanglement of racism and speciesism, and how the interlocking relations between these prejudices are shaped by the different ways that the categories of ‘race’ and of species are conceived of in science over time. In the light of the reification and exploitation of dogs’ perceived relationality with humans, it looks again at the ethics and politics of intersubjectivity, becoming-with, entanglements. It disputes that species can be separated from storying. Above all, Dog Politics shows how species stories erase the singular individual animal as a figure of theoretical, methodological, ethical and political value, and with what dire consequences.

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