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Deng’s dogs: Geography and commodity-dog love in neoliberal times.

Authors: Heidi J. Nast*, DePaul University
Topics: Animal Geographies, Anthropocene, Marketing Geography
Keywords: animal geographies, commodity dog, geopolitical economy, cultural materialism, China
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This keynote argues for a rethinking of the trajectory of animal geographies, particularly in relation to those animals we call pets. A recent prolific strain in the subdiscipline has focused on the micropolitics of animal love, emphasizing the plays of power and agency between pet owner (companion, guardian) and dog. This has been a generative field of study but may also have worked to obscure how pet love is inimically tied to, and constitutive of, human systems of oppression. Using the rise of pet ownership in China to illustrate these points, this paper represents a call to action for animal geographers to consider the geopolitical economy and cultural politics of pet ownership. In tracing the recent history of dogs in China—from the opening of China to FDI, to the cultivating of commodity dog markets for China’s new elites--the paper shows how pet dog markets disappear inequalities through fetishistic, pleasurable diversion.. impossible to see how China’s myriad international pet expos, dog grooming competitions, and dog shows are integral to state-sponsored planetary hyper-exploitation, the territorialized disappearance of the Uighurs, the organ mining of the Falun Gong or the reproductive brutalities of the 1-child policy...I argue that China sheds light on pet dog-loving nations everywhere...where hundreds...millions of persons spontaneously network to advocate for homeless and abused pet dogs; organize pet dog fashion shows for charities; and ensure that pet dogs have passports and visas, too. This, while their states work alongside elite interests to dissolve the public good and wreak...and worse. Deng’s dogs...

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