Muskox in a box

Muskox in a Box and Other Tales of Containers as Domesticating Mediators in Animal Relocation, in Animal Housing and Human–Animal Relations: Politics, Practices and Infrastructures, ed. Kristian Bjørkdahl and Tone Druglitrø, 100-114 (Routledge, 2016)

Using three short tales of animal relocation in Norway and Sweden from 1900 to 2013, I argue that the boxes used to transport the animals transform their contents on two levels. On the first level, the box makes the animal into a transportable object by domesticating it. This objectification process changes the perception of the animal from wild to domestic. During the period of relocation, human caretakers see the animal as a controllable object. From the animal’s perspective, the container modifies their relationship to other animals, humans, and their environment. The animals themselves must modify their behavior in order to survive, becoming more controllable, which reinforces the human perception of their domesticity while containerized. On the second level, when the animal emerges from the crate, the human witnesses re-ascribe wildness to it and ascribe belongingness to the wild animal in its new surroundings. When the animal is released from the container, it must reassert its wild nature and fit in with its new surroundings to survive without human intervention. The container transforms the contents from an animal from somewhere else to an animal that belongs here.

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