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Lance Van Sittert and Sandra Swart

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Canis Africanis

A Dog History of Southern Africa

Series:

Lance van Sittert and Sandra Swart

This suite of essays is a first for historical writing about southern Africa: they recover an animal’s ubiquitous, yet hidden presence in human history. The authors have used the dog as a way “to think about human society”. The dog is the connecting thread binding these essays, which each reveals a different part of the complex social history of southern Africa.
The essays range widely from concerns over disease, bestiality, and social degradation through greyhound gambling, to anxieties over social status reflected through breed classifications, to social rebellion through resistance to the dog tax imposed by colonial authorities. With its focus on dogs in human history, this project is part of what has been termed the ‘animal turn’ in the social sciences, which investigates the spaces which animals inhabit in human society and the way in which animal and human lives interconnect.