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Introduction: Viewing Animals

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The introduction to this special issue of Worldviews goes back to the first European encounters with the New World as a way of opening up a discussion about the nature of viewing animals. I argue that, just as the Europeans transformed this New World into a recognisable one in the sixteenth century, so too do we constantly transform the natural world that we view. The process of comprehension is offered as classification followed by observation, then representation, and all of these elements of our engagements with animals take place, I argue, in particular contexts: historical, geographical, cultural, intellectual. The critic "reading" animals, and reading human observations of animals must take these factors into consideration when thinking about the act of engagement.


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