Osprey involvements : historical animal geographies of extinction and return
Garlick, Benjamin Wood
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This thesis argues that humans and ospreys in Scotland are materially, bodily and ethically involved with one another. It follows that a separate human or osprey history of species conservation is inadequate. Focused primarily through the entwined experiences of birds and people on Speyside, I examine the unfolding of osprey-human relationships with particular attention to the agency and capacities of nonhuman animals as animals: with geographies and lives of their own. Drawing on the scholarship of Tim Ingold, Giles Deleuze and Donna Haraway, I consider the dwelling, the co-becoming, and the zones of attachment between human and osprey subjects. At the heart of this project has been an investigation of the relationship between the historical and geographical conditions within which osprey life has flourished on its return from extinction in Scotland, and the possibilities for osprey nature that emerge from such conditions. I offer a ‘site ontology’ of osprey involvements, each ‘site’ comprising a material, bodily and ethical event of agency, subjectivity and composition. Often running in parallel to each other, such sites emphasise differentiations of osprey life: their situation within the militarised biopolitics of bird protection and ‘Operation Osprey’; negotiations of avian-human proximity and distances; their nesting geographies amidst the experimental attempts to restore a diminished community to its former range; and the nature of avian existence emerging in the wake of a return from extinction. Drawing on an array of archival material – occasionally supplemented with oral history, avian science and encounters in the field – the thesis proposes a lively historical geography of animal involvement.