Reply To: 24.3 Urban Ecology

Author Replies
Camilla W # Posted on March 25, 2015 at 16:11

Camilla’s reflection (sorry, I can’t figure out how to upload this or link)

Reflection from 24/3
Camilla Winqvist

I believe that it was a fun and different kind of workshop yesterday. I did have the text by Metzger in mind when we walked around the 4H farm, and the discussion we had at the farm was thought provoking and interesting.

I like 4H farms, I used to go to summer camp on a 4H farm when I was little and I also worked at one a couple of years ago. I have, of course, reflected earlier about the purpose of the 4H farms – both in theory and in practice. When I was a kid, I just appreciated the cute, furry animals. When I worked at one as a guide, I guided school classes and taught them about the different animals and the focus of the guide manuscript was on the purpose of the animals for the human population.
We touched on the subject of animals as “goods” for humans yesterday at the workshop, and “product” animals such as cows, sheep and chickens seem to be the most popular to have at 4H farms.

Some of the animals though, like rabbits and goats are not (at least in Sweden) directly associated with animal products such as meat.
The pygmy goats that are so popular at 4H farms are actually used as “product animals” in other parts of the world, for example in Northern Africa. Many populations around the world are eating rabbits but here in Sweden it is not very common in modern day society.
Therefore, the rabbits and the pygmy goats are primarily at the 4H farms to be cute and to be petted by little kids.

It shows that animals that are perceived as rural animals used for meat and/or milk in other parts of the world have been turned into fluffy urbanized animals in Sweden. The dichotomy that Metzger speaks of in his text, about rural-urban and wild-domesticated animals is not really fixed, it is always in motion. Another example of how the perception of animal can radically change through both time and space is the guinea pig. Used primarily for its cheap meat amongst the native population in the Andes, it is in modern day Western societies mostly kept as pets or laboratory animals.

An interesting aspect of how perceptions of the “purpose” of an animal changes is that in our globalized world, different perceptions can exist at the same time. When we disagree about the purpose of an animal it is quite easy to condemn other societies on their handling of animals that we ourselves do not perceive as product animals.