Animals and Human Society: Changing Perspectives
Over the millennia, human relationships with animals have taken some extraordinary forms. Animals have been worshipped as gods, reviled as evil spirits or as symbols of human depravity. They have been cruelly mistreated as mindless automata, tried and executed for criminal acts, and welcomed into our families as loved companions. And because we have always lived at their expense, animals have also provided a rich and disturbing source of moral conflicts and paradoxes. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the industrial West. Our society is re-examining its whole relationship with animals and the natural world. Until recently, issues such as animal welfare, wildlife conservation and environmental protection were considered the domain of small, idealistic minorities. Now, they have become matters of widespread public and political concern. But is this sudden explosion of interest in the plight of non-human animals purely a western phenomenon without cultural parallels or historical precedents? Or are our current concerns about animals simply the most recent manifestation of an ancient and recurring human preoccupation? Animals and Human Society seeks to answer these questions through a wide-ranging historical, cross-cultural and contemporary reappraisal of human attitudes to animals. The distinguished contributors to Animals and Human Society draw their insights from a variety of disciplines. The book will therefore be of great interest to students of anthropology, sociology and history, as well as to all those concerned about the current status of animals and nature.
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