Public history and heritage

A fruitful approach for privileging animals?

Authored by: Hilda Kean

The Routledge Companion to Animal–Human History

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138193260
eBook ISBN: 9780429468933
Adobe ISBN:


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I start this chapter with some non-human animal protagonists and some definitions. For the former we have a small terrier dog who grieved over the corpse of his human companion; a donkey who alongside a human medical orderly helped rescue wounded soldiers at Gallipoli; various Norwegian brown rats, not of the fancy variety but the type who cause terror amongst many humans; and last but not least some long dead, and now taxidermied, polar bears. I will discuss these beings later in this chapter but have deliberately placed them here to indicate both their importance in this piece of writing and also as an indication of the focus I have chosen to adopt as a historian who seeks, at the bare minimum, to privilege the role of animals in the creation of histories. As I have discussed elsewhere, while debates around the nature of the materials used in the creation of histories involving animals are important – materials always are, whatever sort of history is being created – what is probably more important is the stance of the historian, her aims and objectives, the decisions she takes in developing particular arguments and employing specific materials and the way such work is presented and to whom. 1

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