Animal Nation: The True Story of Animals And Australia by Adrian Franklin

By Adrian Franklin

Animals can let us know much approximately ourselves.  the best way we adore them as pets, devour them for dinner, lead them to symbols of the kingdom or shun them as invaders and pests illuminates a lot approximately our society and tradition. Animal country strains the complicated relationships among animals and people in Australia. It starts off with the colonial period—when strange local animals have been hunted nearly to extinction and changed with most well-liked species—and brings us complete circle to the current whilst local species are safe principally others.

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In the meantime their Australian proxies did much to persuade them of the value of this explosion of fieldwork. Although the race to solve the totemic puzzle involved many anthropologists, it was those who established successful proxy relationships that formed the leading pack. Edward Tylor and Sir James Frazer eventually choreographed the conduct of two remarkable sets of research in Australia, those undertaken by Fison and Howett in the case of Tylor and by Spencer and Gillen in the case of Frazer.

In addition to classifying Aborigines as inferior in terms of technology, Europeans also entertained the notion that their intellect belonged to an earlier stage of human evolution. In this way the primitive state of Australia as indicated by its fauna was mapped directly onto its humanity. Such a comfortable thought, far from easing the conscience of the colonising powers, produced yet another animal enigma and this too became increasingly focused on Australia. It is routinely conceded that Darwin’s evolutionary theory had a dramatic impact on how people thought about animals (including ourselves as animals), and how Christians in the West felt about the Bible as the blueprint truth of the world.

However, as it happened, neither of these armchair anthropologists was to produce a satisfactory account of totemism. The accounts produced by their proxies were first made sense of not by a British anthropologist or even a recognised anthropologist anywhere but by a French sociologist. The great works of Spencer and Gillen on the Aborigines of central and north central Australia were published between 1899 and 1904, and these and many other texts on totemic beliefs and cults were pored over with great interest by the eminent French sociologist Emile Durkheim, newly installed as Professor of Sociology at the Sorbonne in Paris.

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