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Why Look at Elephants?

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image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

Through analysis of the contending ways elephants have been imagined in a mid twentieth-century circus performance and in a mid nineteenth-century hunting narrative, this essay offers a critique of several basic assumptions behind John Berger's "Why Look at Animals?" The paper argues that studying how elephants have been described and used reveals particularly well the often quickly evolving nature of our understanding of animals and their significance in our lives, and concludes that our historical comprehension of the very terms of "animal" and "human" is often surprisingly complex.


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