Urban Animals—Domestic, Stray, and Wild: Notes from a Bear Repopulation Project in the Alps

In: Society & Animals

Abstract

This piece explores “domesticity” as a social territory defined by its relationship with the conceptual and ecological space of “the wild,” and asks whether these spaces stand in opposition to each other or more subtle relations of co-implication are at play. As we look into the domestic and the wild, a conceptual map of notions emerges, including the public, the common, the civilized, and the barbarian. The paper suggests the domestic and the wild constitute two semiotic-ecological domains constantly stretching into each other without any stable or even clear boundary line, and it elaborates on a series of corollaries for studying non-human animals in urban contexts. As an illustrative case study, we follow the story of Daniza, a wild brown bear introduced in the Brenta Natural Park on the Italian Alps in the 2000s. Declared a “dangerous animal,” Daniza was accidentally, and controversially, killed by the public authorities in 2014.

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