Animal Studies Bibliography

Jeter, Kris. 1985. A Historical Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Animal and Human Ecosystem.

In this article, Jeter examines the way in which the human and animal ecosystem has been viewed from four perspectives: the mythological approach, archaelogical and paleontological approach, anthropological approach, and psychotherapeutic approach. Jeter uses M. Esther Harding's work to look at the first societies in which deities were animals and people acted with empathy and knowledge in their relationships with animals (p. 223). In this mythological view, Jeter states that humans survived from recognizing and abiding by the varied life cycles, and that mythology connected human to animal to nature (p. 224, pp. 224-225). In this section there is a discussion of mythology concerning things such as the moon, fish, mammal, spirit, and sun. The author claims that the homeostasis of the animal and human social ecosystem became unbalanced because of an increased valuing of the destructive power of the male.

In the archaelogical and paleontological approach, Jeter discusses the ideas of Frederick Zeuner. His ideas relate to animal domestication, how it came about and its effects. Zeuner claimed that domestication was born out of conscious social needs of both animals and humans during hunting, and, later, farming, and that animals and humans willingly entered a symbiotic relationship, one of benefit to both animals acting in the role of the guest and humans in the role of the host (p. 229). Jeter describes Zeuner's view of the stages of animal domestication. Zeuner's idea was that the human changes the environment, and an animal species responds and is specifically bred, requiring the services of another animal species who is then specifically bred (p. 232).

Jeter looks at Marvin Harris's work when describing the anthropological approach. Jeter discusses Harris's ideas about the human and animal connection in the Hindu and Maring societies. Harris claimed that the cow is sacred in the Hindu culture because it useful as a labor source, it produces nourishing milk, and it is a source of manure. He stated that cow love mobilizes the latent capacity of human beings to persevere in a low-energy ecosystem in which there is little room for waste or indolence (p. 233).

As in the Hindu society, in the Maring society animals (pigs, in this case) are included as members of the family. However, in this society, when the pigs become too plentiful, the people have a festival, at which time they sacrifice pigs for their ancestors and go to war. Jeter states that within three months of the final convening of the kaiko [the festival], the warriors, full of nutritious protein and fat and the spirit of the pig and human family members, conduct a war against a neighboring enemy (p. 234). After the festival is over, the families start raising pigs again, and the cycle repeats as the pigs become too numerous. Jeter asserts that the homeostasis of the animal and human social ecosystem of the Maring is maintained through a time-honored and tested custom (p. 235).

In the psychotherapeutic approach, Jeter examines Boris Levinson's writings. Jeter explains that Levinson addressed the effects of separation from animal life and nature on the twentieth century Western human. Alienation, anxiety, despair, fear, insecurity, isolation, and tension have their roots in human mastery over nature (p. 235). Levinson viewed pets as a kind of therapy, relating the idea of the human-animal bond to that of the child and mother.

Jeter reviews the ideas of the different theorists, concluding that in a continuum from nature domination to nature and human harmony to human domination, it is evident that gradually in the adaptation process the human has mastered nature and animal life, sacrificing congruity with creation and the universe (p. 237). Jeter claims that what has developed over many years as a symbiotic relationship between the human and the pet animal still persists and is the bond that links together the two with joy, love, and respect" (p. 238).




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