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Canis familiaris: A dog history of Southern Africa

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Chapter Summary

Dogs, like humans, are products both of culture and nature. For the past twelve thousand years they have been entangled with human societies. Dogs connect the wild with the tame. The two themes of extermination and domestication also animate the dog history of southern Africa, part of a broader process of ?bringing in the wild? first under the superintendence of Africans and, from the mid-seventeenth century onwards, European settlers. Each epoch of human-canine interaction produced its own peculiar animal, literally a pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial dog, as well as its dark doppelgänger, the wild, ?Kaffir? or stray dog. This chapter shows that the cynological world is invested with emotional, intellectual, financial, and political narratives, and that equally the human world can usefully be observed through canine eyes. It is now generally accepted that the principal ancestor of the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) is the wolf.

Keywords: canine eyes; Canis familiaris; human society; Southern Africa



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