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The relationship between humans and domestic animals has changed in dramatic ways over the ages, and those transitions have had profound consequences for all parties involved. As societies evolve, the selective pressures that shape domestic populations also change. Some animals retain close relationships with humans, but many do not. Those who establish residency in the wild, free from direct human control, are technically neither domestic nor wild: they are feral. If we really want to understand humanity's complex relationship with domestic animals, then we cannot simply ignore the ones who went feral. This is especially true in the American South, where social and cultural norms have facilitated and sustained large populations of feral animals for hundreds of years. Feral Animals in the American South retells southern history from this new perspective of feral animals.
1. The trouble with ferality: domestication as coevolution and the nature of broken symbioses
2. Making and breaking acquaintances: the origins of wildness, domestication, and ferality in prehistoric Eurasia
3. When ferality reigned: establishing an open range in the colonial South
4. Nascent domestication initiatives and their effects on ferality: claiming dominion in the antebellum South
5. Anthropogenic improvement and assaults on ferality: divergent fates in the industrializing South
6. Everything in its right place: wild, domestic, and feral populations in the modern South
Epilogue: cultivating ferality in the Anthropocene
Abraham H. Gibson is a Fellow in Residence at the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine. He also teaches in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published extensively and has earned fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution.
"Abraham H. Gibson's Feral Animals in the American South: An Evolutionary History tells a fascinating story of animals in the American South and, as importantly, a fascinating story of humans – free and enslaved – in the American South. One comes away wiser and in many respects sadder about our relationships with animals and at least as much about our relationships with each other. This is a very important book that is relevant to many scholars in varying fields."
– Michael Ruse, editor of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought