Animals and Environmental History: Hunting and Husbandry in Early Modern Spain

Sunday, January 8, 2012: 11:20 AM
Chicago Ballroom A (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Marcy S. Norton, George Washington University
Non-human animals occupy a strange place in environmental history. On the one hand, they – like other elements of “nature” are considered part of the ecologies that are larger than human scale, though affected by and affecting human actions. On the other hand, in the emerging multi-disciplinary field of “animal studies” they are often posited as possessing a kind of “personhood” and their commonalties with humans are emphasized (on the spectrum from sentience to reason); some insisting that they deserve recognition on par with other “subaltern” groups.  In this paper, I will suggest a framework for exploring the way animals belong both inside and outside of human culture. My case study, based on archival research as well as treatises, will be a comparison of hunting and husbandry as “modes of interaction” over the longue durée (12th-18th century) in Spain.  I define a “mode of interaction” as an ecologically-informed and socially-created structure of the longue durée that organizes relationships between and among classes or species of animals. These modes manifest in institutions, customs, practices, and they are not only constrained by ecological limits but also consequential for ecology, as well as diverse social and cultural phenomena.