By Taryn Simon

“White Tiger (Kenny)
Selective Inbreeding, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and Foundation
Eureka Springs, ArkansasIn the United States, all living white tigers are the result of selective inbreeding to artificially create the genetic conditions that lead to white fur, ice-blue eyes and a pink nose. Kenny was born to a breeder in Bentonville, Arkansas on February 3, 1999. As a result of inbreeding, Kenny is mentally retarded and has significant physical limitations. Due to his deep-set nose, he has difficulty breathing and closing his jaw, his teeth are severely malformed and he limps from abnormal bone structure in his forearms. The three other tigers in Kenny’s litter are not considered to be quality white tigers as they are yellow-coated, cross-eyed, and knock-kneed.”

© Taryn Simon

Of Worldliness and Being Otherwise

A Conversation with Elisabeth Grosz – Heather Davis

“We are indeed one species among many millions of species. Mankind has relegated to itself the function of reigning over animals, harnessing them for human purposes, making the animal a different order than itself. I am not sure that the discourses on sustainability or environmentalism are any different. They still assume man as steward of nature, man as the one who both causes and can stop ecological catastrophes, man as both the misery and saviour of animals. Sustainability is surely what is sustainable for human use, human interests, human forms of identification, isn’t it? That is why it is a continuation by other means of the discourses of liberal humanism, but a humanism that doesn’t just represent humankind but all those animals (and plants) that humans find interesting. Which animals are saved (tigers, polar bears, baby seals, whales) and which are to be destroyed in saving other animals (mosquitos, insects of various kinds, sharks) are those, perhaps, that humans find appealing. And this is itself not the overcoming of evolutionary forces but the latest torsion in the forces of natural selection, with human excess being one of the conditions that now make up the natural milieu of most species. The human assumes that it is exempt from the forces of natural selection – forces that are brutal in the extinction of the vast majority of species over time – but what ecological crises show is not only the vulnerability of species to human excess but also the vulnerability of the human to its own excesses.” (EG)


Room and Board : Towards An Articulation of Domesticated Animals As Pioneer Survivors In Affluent Societies

Is there a better (living) example to illustrate 21st century survival in abundant societies than the life of spoiled domestic animals? Some of our companion species are now lodging in five stars pensions, attending « Doga » (Dog Yoga) classes and feasting on organic gourmet food… Considering centuries of domestication, if animals’ lives are changing, so might ours. These potential evolutionary breaks, both biological and cultural, have a long and interesting history – fueled by natural and unnatural histories. Because the way we are trading animals tells a lot about the way we are treating each other, I coined the concept of Beastness to help describe our contemporary modalities of dealing with otherness, including ourselves. Beastness is the name I gave to this particular evolution of this relationship’s economy, bonding humans and animals since the dawn of time to the present day. It is a play on words referring primarily to animal trade (business). It is also the contraction of “fitness” (in a biological sense) and “beast” (in a mythological sense). Trading is not just about money but also about desire, projection, affects and meanings. It speaks for the self and the civilisation. Here, Nature and Culture together articulate thoughts and actions. To readress the question of survival fitness beyond the frame of purely adaptive lives, I suggest we examine some specific humanized animals’ biographies. By selecting some companion species’ nonfictional case studies, I hope to provide a better understanding of mutations brought on by abundant humanimal societies.

American Anthropological Association
Thursday, November 17, 2011: 09:00
Montreal Convention Center 513D