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Viewed as fierce, menacing or mysterious, badgers have been both admired and reviled throughout human history. Their global reputation for ferocious self-defence has led to brutalization by hunters and sport-seekers; their association with the mythic underworld has made them symbols of earth-based wisdom and steadfast tradition; their burrowing and predation habits have resulted in widespread persecution as pests or public nuisances. Whether as living animals, abstract symbols or commercial resources, badgers have fascinated humans for thousands of years – though often to the animals' detriment.
From the iconic European badger to the African honey badger, the hog badger of Southeast Asia and the North American badger, Badger is the first truly global cultural history of the animal in over 30 years. Profusely illustrated with images spanning centuries, cultures, continents and species, Badger considers badgers' lives and lore, from their evolution and widespread distribution to their current and often imperilled status throughout the world. It travels from natural history and life in the wild to the myths, legends and spiritual beliefs badgers continue to inspire, as well as their representation and exploitation in industry, religion and the arts. Appealing to anyone interested in a deeper understanding of these much misunderstood and often maligned creatures, Badger traces the complex and often contradictory ways in which this fascinating animal endures.
Daniel Heath Justice is Canada Research Chair of Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture and an associate professor of First Nations Studies and English at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.