Embracing self and others: Philadelphia animal murals

Authors: Mario Cardozo*, Kutztown University
Topics: Animal Geographies, Urban Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: animal geography, landscapes of care, murals, Philadelphia, place, environmentalism
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is populated with street art that depicts varied themes and artistic styles. Many of the messages in Philadelphia murals relate to expressions of care that convey support towards different culture groups, animals and plants, the local urban ecosystem, and the environment at large. I discuss such mural themes from the perspectives of two analytical frameworks in Geography, “Landscapes of Care” and “Animal Geographies,” anchored by my journaled experiences while visiting various neighborhoods in Philadelphia. I narrate my encounters with animals on Philadelphia murals, and how these encounters have drawn me to a rich sense of locals' care for animals and peoples perceived to be subaltern, and the local and global habitats where they live. In the process, I discuss how Philadelphia's dynamic landscape alternates in reaffirming and taking down these representations of care as the city is reconfigured by both gentrification and resistance to urban renewal. I conclude that animal street art in Philadelphia is a project that underscores relationships of care for human and non-human animals within the city and the world, in this manner also contributing to specific narratives within critical geographies.

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