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Night terrors and day dreaming: Living with and learning from nonhuman animal victims of human abuse.

Authors: Jacquelyn Johnston*, Florida International University
Topics: Animal Geographies, Cultural Geography, Legal Geography
Keywords: multispecies, nonhuman, ethnography, animals, law
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Transitioning to academic research life demands a fleshly recognition of the trauma I share with multispecies "others" I have encountered through programs to manage and control. In previous work as an animal rescuer, government employee, volunteer coordinator, and first responder charged with securing wildlife in need of assistance, I was faced with life or death situations for which my resources at the time offered a limited number of outcomes. By staying with the trouble of carefully selecting the stories with which to tell stories (Haraway 2016), I continuously turn to my nonhuman roommates for guidance to explain implementation-level repercussions of government policies (Srinivasan 2014, Gillespie 2019). Moments of shared vulnerabilities haunt my research and my nightmares. As I share a bed with a dog I adopted a year after his rescue from a hoarding situation, I have no choice but to fall asleep with my own unsettled thoughts about the stories I write about the individual animals who have been killed after being confiscated from similar hoarding situations, in the name of animal welfare, humane treatment, and even an ephemeral claim of ‘care’. These individual stories cling to my every movement as I hit keys on a keyboard I imagine stained with the blood of those animals for whom I speak too little, too late. And yet, this snoring heap of a black and tan Doberman, terrified and terrorized by a life before we met, exhales confidence on my forearm as he rests his head on me as I type.

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