Centering Animals in Latin American History

Centering Animals in Latin American History

Book Pages: 408 Illustrations: 20 photographs, 1 table Published: June 2013

Cultural Studies > Animal Studies, History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies

Centering Animals in Latin American History writes animals back into the history of colonial and postcolonial Latin America. This collection reveals how interactions between humans and other animals have significantly shaped narratives of Latin American histories and cultures. The contributors work through the methodological implications of centering animals within historical narratives, seeking to include nonhuman animals as social actors in the histories of Mexico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Chile, Brazil, Peru, and Argentina. The essays discuss topics ranging from canine baptisms, weddings, and funerals in Bourbon Mexico to imported monkeys used in medical experimentation in Puerto Rico. Some contributors examine the role of animals in colonization efforts. Others explore the relationship between animals, medicine, and health. Finally, essays on the postcolonial period focus on the politics of hunting, the commodification of animals and animal parts, the protection of animals and the environment, and political symbolism.

Contributors. Neel Ahuja, Lauren Derby, Regina Horta Duarte, Martha Few, Erica Fudge, León García Garagarza, Reinaldo Funes Monzote, Heather L. McCrea, John Soluri, Zeb Tortorici, Adam Warren, Neil L. Whitehead


“The volume’s methodological variety, its engaging subject matter, and its readability, together with its bibliography, will prove useful and attractive not just to scholars and activists but also to students of Latin American history from the colonial period into the twentieth century.” — Lina del Castillo, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“It is accessible but still sophisticated and intriguing for scholars of modern and colonial Latin America, historians of science and of medicine, environmental historians, and scholars in the growing multidisciplinary ?eld of animal studies….. In sum, this is a notable volume for how it bridges colonial and postcolonial histories, expansively de?nes animal history, and packs in so much variety into so brief of a text.” — Emily Wakild, H-Environment, H-Net Reviews

“Overall, the volume’s approach is methodologically innovative and challenging and shows that the descriptive and analytical presence of animals in history writing does not necessarily centre them…. it is certainly a significant push toward the understanding of the region’s natural history and will delight readers from various disciplinary backgrounds.”  — Leopoldo Cavaleri Gerhardinger and Dannieli Firme Herbst, European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

"This anthology  . . . is the very best example of a new trend in historiography that studies non-human animals as our partners in the generation of history."   — Abel A. Alves, Journal of Latin American Studies

"This volume clearly meets the editors' expectations that animal-centered perspectives can provide new and interesting interpretations of past events." — Peter W. Stahl, Journal of Anthropological Research

"Brings local and imported animals into dialogue with humans in colonial and postcolonial Latin America, creating a conversation that examines, crosses and perhaps dissolves boundaries among species. The end result not only affirms that human history is profoundly shaped by animals, but lays the groundwork for the way the complex project of investigating historical human– nonhuman relationships might be undertaken."  — Sarah Newman, Social Anthropology

“[T]his is a fascinating collection of essays that will be of great use to environmental historians, as well as to scholars interested in animal studies. By ‘centering’ animals in history, many of the volume’s essays break new ground and introduce fresh approaches to old topics.”  — Thomas Klubock, Environmental History

"Centering Animals is an important addition to animal studies that simultaneously provides a new lens through which to view key issues in human history. Whether as resources, victims, or historical agents, animals have indeed been central to the development of Latin America. This book brings their contribution to the fore and opens exciting new avenues for future research." — Helen Cowie, Hispanic American Historical Review

"The archives produced by elites, largely white and mainly men, render many of the others involved anonymous and voiceless. Yet we are learning how to hear them speak through complementary types of primary sources such as material culture. If anyone can do the same for animals, it will be the talented group of scholars who contributed to this volume."  — Andrew Sluyter, Ethnohistory

"Centering Animals in Latin American History breaks new ground. In intellectually sophisticated essays, the contributors suggest that by providing a new history of animals, we can not only understand more about the human/animal divide but also break down the category of the human, interrogate nature, and analyze the form in which the past becomes history. In this way, this collection writes animals into Latin American history." — Pete Sigal, author of The Flower and the Scorpion: Sexuality and Ritual in Early Nahua Culture

"In this engaging and generative collection of essays, editors Martha Few and Zeb Tortorici take us beyond the implications of the Columbian Exchange to show how a wide range of animals—including locusts, cattle, monkeys, fur seals, llamas, birds, and goats—actively shaped Latin American history and culture. Centering Animals in Latin American History does more than just restore animals to visibility while examining human ideas about and practices toward nonhuman animals: it makes it impossible to look at Latin American history without taking into consideration the nonhuman animals that materially and symbolically cocreated our world." — Brett Mizelle, author of Pig


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Martha Few is Associate Professor of Colonial Latin American History and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Arizona, Tucson. She is the author of Women Who Live Evil Lives: Gender, Religion, and the Politics of Power in Colonial Guatemala.

Zeb Tortorici is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures at New York University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / Erica Fudge ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction. Writing Animal Histories / Zeb Tortorici and Martha Few 1

Part I. Animals, Culture, and Colonialism

1. The Year the People Turned into Cattle: The End of the World in New Spain, 1558 / León García Garagarza 31

2. Killing Locusts in Colonial Guatemala / Martha Few 62

3. "In the Name of the Father and the Mother of All Dogs": Canine Baptisms, Weddings, and Funerals in Bourbon Mexico / Zeb Tortorici 93

Part II. Animals and Medicine, Science, and Public Health

4. From Natural History to Popular Remedy: Animals and Their Medicinal Applications among the Kallawaya in Colonial Peru / Adam Warren 123

5. Pest to Vector: Disease, Public Health, and the Challenges of State-Building in Yucatán, Mexico, 1833-1922 / Heather McCrea 149

6. Notes on Medicine, Culture, and the History of Imported Monkeys in Puerto Rico / Neel Ahuja 180

Part III. The Meanings and Politics of Postcolonial Animals

7. Animal Labor and Protection in Cuba: Changes in Relationships with Animals in the Nineteenth Century / Reinaldo Funes Monzete (translated by Alex Hildago and Zeb Tortorici) 209

8. On Edge: Fur Seals and Hunters along the Patagonian Littoral, 1860–1930 / John Soluri 243

9. Birds and Scientists in Brazil: In Search of Protection, 1894–1938 / Regina Horta Duarte (translated by Zeb Tortorici and Roger Arthur Cough) 270

10. Trujillo, the Goat: Of Beasts, Men, and Politics in the Dominican Republic / Lauren Derby 302

Conclusion. Loving, Being, Killing Animals / Neil L. Whitehead 329

Recommended Bibliography 347

Contributors 357

Index 361
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5397-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5383-6
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