Connection

Joe Hardwick

Interest (Researcher)

Mary Midgley

Research

I'm interested in Midgley's ideas about the importance of animals to the notion of a 'mixed community'. I come at this topic from the perspective of the domestic animals that migrated with British settlers to colonies in Australia and South Africa in the 19th century. The settler relationship with these animals has usually been cast in very economic terms - sheep and cattle were only important to the extent to which they made possible a workable colony. But I want to draw on Midgley to argue for a closer relationship between settlers and their 'livestock': settlers grieved when they lost animals in droughts and floods; domestic animals might even be drawn into religious communities. My recent research reveals that settlers fasted and prayed when their believed their sins had contributed to animal suffering; some clergymen even thought animals should participate in these fasts. I'm hoping that a deeper reading of Midgley will help me tell new stories about the significance of animal and insect migration in the history of empire.

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