Backyard birds & human-made bat houses: Domiciles of the wild in 19th and 20th century cities

In Animal History in the Modern City: Exploring Liminality, ed. Clemens Wischermann, Aline Steinbrecher, and Philip Howell, 221-237 (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018)

Abstract: In this article, apply the broader STS concept of domestication to an investigation of urban animals: How are urban animals domesticated in the sense of finding a place within the infrastructure of a city? How do the animals themselves domesticate human technology in order to make their own domus? These questions grow out of some of my previous research that postulated the unclear boundaries between human artefacts and nonhuman habitats and that advocated a wider view of domestication when dealing with wild animals. In this article, I focus on the history of bird and bat inhabitants of North American cities—specifically birdhouses constructed for purple martins and bridges that became bat roosts—in order to see how urban infrastructure becomes a natural home for its wild animal inhabitants.

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