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What is video game culture and video games as culture? Culture at Play avoids easy answers and deceitful single definitions. Instead, the collected essays included here navigate the messy and exciting waters of video games, of culture, and of the meeting of video games and culture, and do so from four perspectives: Players: Types and Identities; The Human/The Machine: Agents, Ethics, and Affect; Compassion, Recognition, and the Interpersonal; and Learning through Play. As a form of play, video games can greatly affect our lives. As digital objects, they participate in our digital lives. As both, they have a noticeable impact on our relationships with others, with society, and with ourselves, and this is the scope of this book.

Abstract

Alligators were perceived as dangerous by early settlers in Florida, and they also reflected the untamed and potentially untameable Florida wilderness. By the 20th century, alligator farms capitalized on the thrill of alligator encounters in controlled theme park experiences. Alligators are tamed in the current farm context and valued increasingly for the products that can be derived from their bodies. This anthrozoological investigation of perceptions of Florida alligators explores how farms define alligators and why visitors might accept these particular constructed images of alligators, concluding with a wider view to consider these perceptions of farmed animals in relation to the idea of the nuisance alligator. The discussion is framed by multi-species studies that rest on notions of embodiment and attentiveness, which in this case push the importance of alligator experience and agency to the foreground.

In: Society & Animals
Author: Darko Suvin

Abstract

Orwell, as he himself remarked, came from a lower, professional-service fraction of the English and imperial ruling class that was ‘simultaneously dominator and dominated’ (Raymond Williams), so that a combination of state and monopoly power became his abiding nightmare. His horizon was, as of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, a revolutionary socialism committed to freedom and equality, opposed both to Labourite social democracy and to Stalinist pseudo-communism. In this article, I concentrate on Nineteen Eighty-Four, drawing on narratology (its agential system, spacetime descriptions, and composition – ‘the Winston story’, the ‘Goldstein excerpts’, and the Appendix on Newspeak) and history. I conclude that Nineteen Eighty-Four has an interesting, but limited, ‘Tory anarchist’ stance and horizon: in revolt against the rulers, but not believing that the revolt can succeed (in direct polemic with the Communist Manifesto). In Orwell’s view there are ‘three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle and the Low’, but the mindless and passive Low reduce this to the Middle against the High, or intellect and impotence versus cynical power. ‘No economics’ entails here ‘no class struggle’, and a fair amount of misogyny. Orwell’s textural skill was penetrating, but his thematics very limited. Still, he was one of the first to notice the long-duration slide of politics toward fascism, even if he drew a mistaken consequence from it, as evident in his early conflation of Stalinism and Nazism into an untenable ‘totalitarianism’. Nineteen Eighty-Four remains a concerned, appealing, and in some ways useful text, albeit one that ultimately lacks wisdom.

In: Historical Materialism

Abstract

Through a series of in-depth interviews asking individuals about their decisions to adopt special-needs companion animals, we discovered that a combination of anthropomorphism and empathy are at play when individuals decide to adopt them. This tendency is explained using David Blouin’s typology of guardians: humanistic and protectionistic guardians anthropomorphized their companion animals, exhibited greater empathy, and were more willing to adopt animals with special needs.

In: Society & Animals
Author: Pauliina Raento

Abstract

Postage stamp imagery reveals how humans see other animals in their society; how this relationship changes over time; and in particular political, economic, and cultural contexts; and what the stamp-issuing state wishes to communicate to its citizens. A qualitative mixed-methods exploration of this overlooked, easily accessible visual data identifies trends and representative examples of human-animal relations in Finnish society during the country’s independence (1917-2016). The empirical discussion strengthens method(olog)ical discussion on visual culture and data in animal studies. The examination shows the value of systematic longitudinal data, the inclusion of both consumer and producer perspectives in the analysis, and engagement with scholarly debates outside animal studies.

In: Society & Animals
Author: Ole Bruun

Abstract

Despite years of international criticism and domestic policy making, China still plays a key role in illegal wildlife trafficking. Although the country has begun a transition from the mindless exploitation of nature towards an envisioned Ecological Civilisation, basic tenets in traditional medicine and popular cosmology continue to have highly adverse ecological consequences, both at home and abroad. Evaluating recent trends in international wildlife trade, Chinese policy making, and popular cosmology in China, this article aims to throw light on why wildlife substances continue to play such important role in the modern society, as well as to reflect on the preconditions for broader value change. The article goes on to argue that in order to get a better understanding on how nature and wildlife are viewed in a Chinese context, one is compelled to reflect not only on the impact of popular cosmology but also of authoritarian governance on conservation.

In: Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology
Author: James W. Waters

Abstract

Eco-feminist Val Plumwood has argued that as heirs of rationalism, the developed world has created an ecological crisis that is truly a crisis of reason. Of primary concern is the “rationalist hyper-separation of human identity from nature,” which has caused a great epistemological schism between ethics and ecology. Assuming the ecological crisis is, as Plumwood argues, an epistemological crisis enflamed by the human/non-human, ethical/ecological divisions that take place in modern forms of rationalism, this essay argues that certain western interpretations of Christian divinity—particularly the notion of divinity purported by Thomas Aquinas—have historically supported hegemonic forms of rationalism and human supremacy. After showing that certain Thomist formulations of the divine have buttressed the anthropocentric elements of modern rationalism, I venture a reading of Christian divinity that is radically relational in character. This reading of the divine highlights the inseparability of the human and non-human, and begins doing so by emphasizing the intimate connection between human and non-human animality. Such a re-framing of divinity, I argue, could help bridge the human/non-human, ethical/ecological divides, complicate anthropocentric logic, and mitigate the vast eco-epistemological crisis of our day.

In: Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology
In: Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology