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The reintroduction and reinterpretation of the wild

By E. O'Rourke

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This paper is concerned with changing social representations of the "wild," in particular wild animals. It argues that within a contemporary Western context the old agricultural perception of wild animals as adversarial and as a threat to domestication, is being replaced by an essentially urban fascination with certain emblematic wild animals, who are seen to embody symbols of naturalness and freedom. On closer examination that carefully mediatized "naturalness" may be but another form of domestication. After an historical overview of the human-animal, domestic-wild construction, an anthropological approach is used to interpret the social representation of wild animals held by different social actors - farmers, hunters, and tourists - within the context of an inhabited National Park, that of the Cevennes in south east France. Within the Park, the domestic and the wild, along with agriculture, hunting, conservation, re-introduced wild animals, and tourists co-habit. It is argued that changes in the representation of "wildness" may well be an important indicator of changes in the social representation of nature.

Date 2000
Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 13
Issue 1/2
Pages 145-165
ISBN/ISSN 0893-4282
Language English
Author Address Department of Environmental Resource Management, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Irish Republic.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Anthropology
  2. Attitudes
  3. Biological resources
  4. Developed countries
  5. Domestication
  6. Europe
  7. Farms
  8. France
  9. Hunting
  10. Mammals
  11. Mediterranean region
  12. OECD countries
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. predators
  15. Primates
  16. Social psychology and social anthropology
  17. Tourism and travel
  18. Wild animals
  1. peer-reviewed