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An Inclusive Re-Engagement with our Nonhuman Animal Kin: Considering Human Interrelationships with Nonhuman Animals

Honorary Fellow, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
Animals 2011, 1(1), 40-55;
Received: 19 November 2010 / Accepted: 9 December 2010 / Published: 14 December 2010
PDF [68 KB, uploaded 14 December 2010]

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The impact that the divide between human and nonhuman animals, between nature and culture, actually has on the planet, on nonhuman animals, cannot be underestimated. The divide is a socially constructed separation, an ‘othering’, of all life on the planet, and has been imposed and systematically used by humanity in order to exploit nonhuman animals and utilise the environment without little thought as to the ramifications. The paper examines such complex questions as ‘what is nature?’, ‘what is an animal?’ and ‘what does it mean to be human?’ Issues considered include species concepts, nature culture dualisms, and the human place within animality. What is recommended is an an urgent need for the adoption of an ethic of ecological inclusion.


As humans increasingly acknowledge the effects that they are having on the planet, there is a realisation implicit in these effects that human interrelationships with nature are actually arbitrated and expedited exploitatively. Understanding how the different discourses and histories through which the interrelationships with nature are mediated and actually told and then retold is fundamental to appreciating how humans may relate with nature less exploitatively and in ways that are more inclusionary, particularly with nonhuman animals. Humans perceive nature and individual nonhuman animals in various ways. This paper provides an investigation of how humans have socially constructed nature and their place as either within or outside of it. Such constructions are elaborated conceptually and through narrative. More pertinently, this paper examines how nature and nonhuman animals are perceived and placed within those narratives that humans construct from reality. It is stressed here that such constructions have, and may continue, to lead to a worsening of the effects that humans have on the planet if there is no acceptance or recognition that certain realities exist beyond the exploitative bounds of any human-inspired concept or narrative. This paper therefore provides the groundwork for the foundations of an ethic that is both socially and ecologically inclusive and is based on a soft realist approach. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal; nonhuman animal; ecological; inclusion animal; nonhuman animal; ecological; inclusion
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Bennison, R. An Inclusive Re-Engagement with our Nonhuman Animal Kin: Considering Human Interrelationships with Nonhuman Animals. Animals 2011, 1, 40-55.

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