In-between spaces

Badmington (2004) quoted in Castree & Nash (2004) p. 1345 praises Sarah Whatmore’s Hybrid Geographies for ‘its embrace of the in-between spaces, the moments of uncertainty, the complications and crossings that [human] geography has often repressed’. Among many binaries she finds troublesome is that of wild/tame. She questions whether an elephant at Paignton Zoo is a ‘wild’ animal, and questions how much of a resemblance it has with its distant relatives in Africa. There are arguably questions to ask around the elephants left in the ‘wild’ in Africa too. Along the lines of the Asian Eels there are probably many ‘crossings’ and ‘complications’ from assemblages created by technology, man, other species, natural events, to name but a few, which have developed these creatures into being something different than merely ‘wild’.

This clip, I think, shows the disruptions of some of the binaries that humanism celebrates and which are outlined in Badmington (ibid) p. 1345. There is the inextricable binding of the human/nonhuman with the keeper as parent and the rhino and warthog as children; the natural/cultural binary is skewed with the fact that that the human is unable to teach the rhino the courtesy norms and behaviours which it must employ later in life;  the us/them distinction seems to have blurred as the ranger must himself keep to the routine which he sets, but which in turn is based on and dictated by rhino habits and let’s not forget that the warthog carries out jobs normally done by birds; and finally one could argue that the wild/tame boundaries are problematic to say the least here.

In fact, Braun (2004)  (in Castree & Nash (2004)) suggests that it is troublesome to say that these types of boundaries have ever existed because in doing so we are believing the humanist myth. It could be argued, perhaps, that this very small example illustrates that ‘Humanism’s founding difference – the differentiation of human from animal – is, ultimately, unstable’. (Braun 2004 paraphrasing Derrida, in Castree & Nash (2004) p 1353).



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