1. Before we start to discuss this week’s readings, I’d like to invite you guys to do a warm-up exercise. Three weeks ago, before Christmas, I read a news report on BBC: a court in Argentina decided to some human legal rights to a shy orangutan, a kind of great apes in a zoo. In the first place, I thought it was a joke. But it turned out to be true, and there were already some similar cases. Then I realized that this might be helpful for our discussion today. I put three cases in our handout.
Read the handout for several minutes, while keep thinking the question: if you were judges or congressman/congresswoman, do you agree to give great apes partly human right, And why?
Do you think it’s funny? Or just ridiculous? Or do you think you can understand their logic?
2. Then could you understand the logic of Li Shishen’s definition on beasts, things, and human in Carla Nappi’s chapter “on Yeti and Being Just.”? So here is the first set of major questions for our today’s discussion.
What is human? What is animal? Where is , or is there a boundary between human and animal?
(1) what is his view on this question?
(2) Why these beasts were both human and utterly nonhuman?
(3) what is your opinion on eating human fresh or parts of human body in Li's definition on human.
(The oxford English dictionary includes tow distinct senses in its entry for animal.
1. all living things
2. in common usage: one of the lower animals; a brute, or beast, as distinguished )
3. We now turn to Harriet Ritvo’s article “animal planet.”
When she started working on The Animal Estate in the early 1980s, it was considered both unusual and eccentric to take animal seriously as historical subjects. …her work was once introduced as “the weirdest of the many weird things."
(1) So Why animals nowadays have been edging toward the mainstream of environmental history or history in general?
(2) what are the major and changing relations between human and animal according to her? Why domestication is so important?
(3) She claimed that there was never any period or state of human society that existed in a completely harmonious or static relation to the rest of the environment….what is your opinion?
The rest three readings are actually representing different approaches on history of animal and human relations, and they are related to our major topic of eat prey love.
4. Let us discuss Jared Diamond's chapter.
What is Diamond’s argument? Or How he use the the Anna Karenina principle explains a feature of animal domestication? What is the puzzle?
Do you agree with him?
5. How many of you watched the movie Princess Mononoke?
It is a anime epic action historical fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the famous Japanese film director.
In the beginning, a boar monster attacked the Japanese village, and in the end part, boars and human had a final brutal war. This was a fantasy movie, but in 1749, aggressive wild boar actually invaded the street to a small castle town in northeast Japan, terrifying town people, and bringing about a famine. How did that happen, according to Brett Walker？
Do you think boar or animal have agency or were they historical agents?
We have always paid attention to humankind as an agent of harm, but in this case, is there any other factor resulting in human/boar conflicts?
(The role of climate--- the little ice age)
6.In Robert Darnton's chapter, Why the cats were targeted by the workers?
Why did they laugh at the cat massacre?
Do you think that was funny as a joke, or animal cruelty?
Can you understand their logic?-changing views towards human-animal relations
Let me make a very short conclusion. Today we have touched some of the major problems in history of human-animal relations, or what to write, such as what is human, what is animal, or the boundaries between human and non-human animals;animal's agencies;changing views towards human-animal relations in different civilizations/periods; and hunting, domestication, species extinction, pet, and of course ‘eat prey love” in general. We also have learned some approaches to history of human-animal relations, or how to write it, scientific and biological historical approach, environmental historical approach, and cultural historical approach.If you ask me, which best is best. My short answer is, it is up to your interest and your own research topic.