DOI: 10.3390/philosophies9010003 ISSN: 2409-9287

The People and Their Animal Other: Representation, Mimicry and Domestication

Laurin Mackowitz
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy

Animal stereotypes are used to describe, circumscribe and label people. They also serve to negotiate what counts as familiar and what is expelled as foreign. This article explores the composition of animal stereotypes and examines why they continue to influence the way humans understand themselves. Referring to dehumanising language in contemporary political discourse, anthropological theories of mimicry and representation as well as ethnological observations of human–animal relations, this article argues that if animals are regarded as intelligent and compassionate rather than irrational or violent, the debasing intent of animal stereotypes fails. While a deeper understanding of the mutual dependence of humans, non-humans and their environment is of academic and social interest alike, the projection of images of oneself onto animal others only highlights certain features, whilst leaving others in the dark.