Animals, Disease and Human Society: Human-animal Relations by Joanna Swabe

By Joanna Swabe

Joanna Swabe's well timed paintings appears at human-animal relatives from antiquity to BSE and cloning, contending that veterinary wisdom and perform has performed a vital position in human background.

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The European explorers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries recorded many instances of pet-keeping and affection for small animals amongst the indigenous peoples they encountered. On the basis of their accounts, during the late nineteenth century, Francis Galton postulated that the ‘savage’ penchant for taming and caring for small animals as pets provided the basis for the development of livestock keeping (Serpell 1989:10). This notion has in fact provided a cornerstone for many explanations of the origins of domestication, most particularly with regard to the early assimilation of dogs into human society.

In this way, it has been argued, agriculture became increasingly relied on as the sole means of subsistence, for it led to the eradication of other competing systems of obtaining food (Goudsblom 1989a:21–2). Thus, once agriculture had taken off, there was no way of reverting to the old manner of subsistence. As Budiansky suggests, instead of being a revolution, the rise of agriculture was a ‘slow subversion’ that, once initiated, could not be stopped (Budiansky 1992:113). However, in comparison to the relatively straightforward existence presented by hunting and gathering, tilling the land and maintaining livestock were hard work.

Whilst such animals might not feasibly be raised as livestock or fully incorporated into human society, they can still be exploited as a resource by humans as game and their territory has been increasingly determined by humans due to urban development and, more recently, the establishment of protected nature reserves or national parks. 3 As the above suggests, very few species have behavioural characteristics amenable to domestication; the animal, therefore, plays a crucial role in the domestication process.

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