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Adaptable, resilient, yet often overlooked, the goat – sometimes called the 'poor man's cow' – is found in nearly every part of the world where humans live. But our relationship with this strange yet familiar animal is oddly ambivalent. In Goat, Joy Hinson explores the reasons behind this unease, from our interaction with the endangered wild goat species of remote mountainous regions to the more familiar farmyard goat.
Goat traces the history of the animal, moving from its evolution through its domestication and global spread to the role of goats in the modern world. It considers in particular the harm done by the indiscriminate importing of tamed goats, which formed huge feral populations on the Galápagos Islands and Australia, for example. It considers the place of goat products in both the culinary and medical traditions of the world, from the time of Pliny the Elder, who recommended pouring goat urine into the ear as a cure for neck pain, to the use of a bezoar stone as an antidote to poison. Goat also explores the connections between goats and wrongdoing and questions whether the goat really deserves its reputation for promiscuity and lasciviousness.
Across the globe goats are part of our culture, art and tradition: from goat festivals in the U.S. to the Christmas Goat in Sweden. An exciting new addition to Reaktion's Animal series, Goat presents readers with this frequently neglected animal's fascinating history, life and role in today's world.
Joy Hinson is Professor of Postgraduate Education and Academic Director of the Centre for Academic and Professional Development at Queen Mary University of London.