By Sarah E. McFarl, Ryan Hediger, Sarah E. McFarland
This assortment examines the query of nonhuman animal corporation by means of moving emphasis from the human standpoint towards that of different animals, exploring modes of animal resistance to human behaviors, and contemplating the methods the presence of animals refracts human notions like corporation and species.
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Additional info for Animals and Agency (Human-Animal Studies)
A possum can play dead, but it cannot take on the character of a raccoon. Here is at least one limitation on animal agency; of course, human agency is not without its own limitations as well. While Marvin and Desmond discuss the framing of performance in terms of spectator perception, others focus on the animal trainer’s role as framer.
What is also intriguing is that the orcas at Marineland were expressing agency in a way very similar to the bottlenose dolphins stealing the white trays of fish at Dolphin Cove in Sea World. And, by the same token, the bottlenose dolphins at Sea World have learned from each other, and so were also demonstrating cultural transmission. However, the dolphins have not received any attention or recognition as such. Overall, the actions of the bottlenose dolphins and orca whales recalled and discussed in this essay are surely a testament to the everpresent yet largely unattended to embodied agency of whale individuals in captive environments.
The remarkable consistency in behaviour across individuals, species, and locations suggests that the structure of the sites themselves largely influences the way the whales move and interact within the pools. At one point, it occurred to me that the whales may have closed their eyes to deliberately ignore that they were being looked at. They may have been attempting to reduce their overall sensory bombardment, considering the acoustically charged environment of the pool. Perhaps they were pretending, in their own way, to make the humans disappear or to be somewhere else?