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"Viewing" the Body: Toward a Discourse of Rabbit Death

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image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

Traditional academic discourse on animal death denies non-human animals an understanding of death based on an inability to have a "concept" of death. A different view has emerged within a rabbit rescue organization to which I belong called the House Rabbit Society. HRS members live closely with rabbits inside their homes and as a matter of practice place the body of a deceased rabbit with his or her surviving partner or group for "viewing." Observing rabbits in this context, HRS members grant to them the capacity to understand that a partner has undergone a permanent and catastrophic change. This conclusion is best understood within a larger discourse of rabbits shaped by three modes of viewing rabbits while they are alive: a rationalist approach, an emotionally engaged view, and an active suspension of interpretation.


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