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Inventing a Beast with No Body: Radio-Telemetry, the Marginalization of Animals, and the Simulation of Ecology

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image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

Radio-telemetry is a relatively new technology that is having powerful impacts on the way wildlife is studied. With tens of thousands of new radio-telemetry units produced each year, to be placed on animals in the wild, it is a technology that is becoming increasingly pervasive. This paper begins by examining the way radio-telemetry has been adapted for the study of macaws in Latin America. The paper argues that as a form of surveillance and monitoring, radio-telemetry illustrates some ways in which Michel Foucault's concepts of "biopower" and surveillance can be applied to the management of wildlife. Additionally, as the new technology creates a greater sense of distance between the "sign" of a creature and its actual reality, wild animals seem to become what Jean Baudrillard terms "simulations", in which they are increasingly signs of their own disappearance—both as creatures and as species.


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