Feline Cultures
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Feline Cultures

Cats Create Their History

Éric Baratay

Translated by Drew S. Burk

Title Details

Pages: 280

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in

Formats

Paperback

Pub Date: 07/01/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6514-5

List Price: $28.95

eBook

Pub Date: 07/01/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6660-9

List Price: $28.95

eBook

Pub Date: 07/01/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6659-3

List Price: $28.95

Feline Cultures

Cats Create Their History

Éric Baratay

Translated by Drew S. Burk

Historical narratives that put the lived experiences of animals first

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Using testimonies written between the middle of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, nourished by ethology and the human and social sciences, Feline Cultures extends the unique track of animal studies that Éric Baratay pursues from book to book. As with his Animal Biographies: Toward a History of Individuals, Baratay breaks the model of human exceptionalism to create innovative accounts of these animals’ lives in a way that challenges the reader’s thinking about animals.

Baratay is not interested in seeing how humans think about or treat these animals. Instead, he chooses to observe the animal’s perspective to document how individual cats have carried out their lives. He writes from the point of view of these animals to understand what they felt and experienced and how they reacted. Whether they be street cats, farm cats, pet cats, companion cats, or "catdogs,” cats show a great plasticity of behavior. This book establishes that cats have their own cultures and adaptations and, therefore, their own history.

Through tight portraits, the dynamic construction of what we can call cultures is revealed. Here we are far from the eternal portrait of the cat—independent, unpredictable, and mysterious—that has become commonplace. For each of the domestic cats whose existence can be reconstructed from his sources, Baratay pays attention to their perceptions of the world, their sensations and their emotions, their sensitivity and character, their bodily expressiveness, and their interactions with the environment, other animals, and humans. Ethology becomes, under the alert pen of Éric Baratay, an ethnology.

Baratay’s work displays impressive theoretical and methodological originality in his attempts to retrieve the experience and perspective of historical animals by extracting their experience from historical documents that were produced for very different purposes.

—Harriet Ritvo, author of Noble Cows and Hybrid Zebras: Essays on Animals and History

Using the science of feline behavior to illuminate historical and literary accounts, Baratay effectively bridges the gap between scientific research and French cultural studies.

—Kathleen Hart, translator of Benoît Duteurtre’s essay “The Question of the Cow”

About the Author/Editor

ÉRIC BARATAY is professor of contemporary history at the Université Jean-Moulin, Lyon. A specialist in animal history, Baratay is the author of many books, including Le Point de vue animal: Une Autre version de l’histoire (The animal point of view: Another side of the story)
and Bêtes des tranchées: Des Vécus oubliés (Beasts of the trenches: Forgotten experiences).