Between Catching and Caring: Navigating Imperial Masculinity in Animal Trade

›Animals‹ have played various roles within colonial rule, whether as resources for food and transport or as means to exercise a symbolic as much as manifest control over land. In the context of hunting, encounters with wild animals had also served to perform ideas of masculinity and ›naturalness‹, often painting the hunt as a struggle between man and animal from which only one could arise alive. However, since the mid-19th century and in the process of the more and more professionalised global animal trade, certain species also became global ›commodities‹. The emerging market shaped new forms of knowledge and practices, e.g., in regards to transport of livestock, but also required a shift in hunting behaviour towards animals. While it still involved violence and the death of many individual animals, it also required to nurture certain others, so they could be imported to Europe and North America alive.

Along the lines of care, concepts of masculinity had to be re-negotiated, taking into account raising questions of conservation as well as the ›embodied agency‹ of animals. Those concepts had to compete with other notions of masculinity, and they were further informed by ideas of femininity, race, and nature.