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OVERVIEW OF URBAN ANIMALIA

This edited volume of essays considers the forms of animal life that take hold in cities, and how we might engage in probiotic urban practices in order to enhance such life.  Contributors to the volume explore how urban residents from varied species relate to the landscape and each other, and how human understandings of such entanglements might make us better companions to our co-inhabitants through policy, planning, design, and other spatial practices.  While the framework of the book draws on political ecology, we are interested here in the details of animal life at all levels, from individuals to groups to species, as well as in their myriad interactions. 

 

For this volume, then, we consider what we know, and how we know, about the lifeways of animals in the urban context.  We examine how urban life is shaped by the proliferation or paucity of species, the multiple points of contact between varied forms of life, and the cycles of care and violence in which all are enmeshed.  And we consider the particular modes of life that are made possible through the assemblages, overlays, and interstices of the urban built environment--from the high rise apartment and the temple grounds to the back alleys and cul-de-sacs, factories and train yards, parks and playgrounds, rivers and waterfronts.  Ultimately, we are interested in both the routine interactions and habits of the heart that shape human and more than human relations in the city, the career of unruly and unpredictable animal bodies through our shared spaces, and how our human practices of policy, planning, architecture, design, and activism can hinder or enhance urban animal life.

 

Contributors include established and emerging scholars, as well as artists, journalists, and essayists.  They tell multiple stories from around the world--not only stories about how humans shape and are shaped by other species in the daily course of urban living, but also about urban animal life per se--that is, the ensembles, interactions, terrains, fields of action, and metabolic processes of creatures that dwell in the city.  Chapters variously engage the lifeworlds of dogs, cows, salamanders, parakeets, oysters, opossums, bees, coyotes, cats, geese, beavers, various primates, and microbiota.  In doing so, the chapters trace relations among urban dwellers, particularly as they trouble the boundary lines between species, reveal the radical disjunctures and otherness of beings, and lay bare the ineluctable connectivity of life. 

 

Joseph Heathcott, The New School, New York  -- and --  Mine Yıldırım, Kadir Has Üniversitesi, Istanbul

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