quarta-feira, 29 de julho de 2015

Black and white or grey? Considering the ambiguous status of the badger

by Delia Langstone

This paper considers the ambiguous status of the badger in the United Kingdom. The beloved, wise and reclusive creature portrayed in books for children such as The Wind in the Willows, has morphed in some circles into a dangerous creature, vilified as the carrier of Bovine TB. The association made between wild badgers and the infection of cattle with TB prompted controversial, ongoing Government-sponsored culls of badgers that are estimated to have cost up to £4000 per animal. Yet the badger remains an iconic animal here in the UK; they are popular objects of study for television wildlife programmes and the current cull policy draws thousands of people out on the streets in protest. Despite such public concern and their protected status however, badger setts are disturbed, and badgers are baited in the countryside in a barbaric activity that has remained the pursuit of a few and seems reminiscent of a bygone age. Meanwhile, in the same way that foxes have colonised British cities, badgers are now a familiar sight in our urban areas and this proximity to city-dwellers has thrown up stark contrasts between those that help and support these animals in well-established organised groups of ‘badger watchers’ and those that see these wild animals as ‘out of place’ in the city. This paper investigates this complex situation and considers the ambiguous status of the badger in the UK, drawing on news media sources and on interviews with those involved in urban badger-protection.

Delia Langstone is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at UEL.  She is interested in the social history of technological development particularly new surveillance technologies, privacy, the social construction of the individual as a data subject and social sorting issues.  She is a member of the Society, Technology and Inequality Research Group (STIR) and has contributed a chapter entitled ‘Myths, crimes and videotape’ in The Myths of Technology: Innovation and Inequality, (Peter Lang 2009) which is one of STIR’s  Technology, Society and Inequality series of books.  She has recently started exploring the surveillance of non-human animals and such exploration may reveal about ourselves.

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