Listening after the animals: sound and pastoral care in the zoo

Tom Rice, Alexander Badman-King, Samantha Hurn, Paul Rose, Adam Reed

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In anthropology and across the humanities and social sciences, zoos have tended to be theorized as places of spectacle. Scholars often focus on the ways in which these institutions enable the viewing of other-than-human animals by human publics. This article, however, uses sound-focused ethnographic fieldwork to engage with two UK zoos and to describe a particular mode of cross-species listening which is enacted by zookeepers. The concepts of pastoral care and control discussed by Foucault and applied to the zoo context by Braverman are productively reworked and reorientated in order to understand this form of listening. The article also demonstrates the interconnectedness of keeper, visitor, and animal sound worlds, in the process generating an original perspective that complements and enriches conventional zoo studies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
VolumeEarly View
Early online date15 Sept 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Sept 2021


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