chapter  10
15 Pages

The adored and the abhorrent: nationalism and feral cats in England and Australia

The possibility of feral animals as a type emerges from a taxonomic imaginary, one with origins in eighteenth-and nineteenth-century Europe, in which a relatively fl uid, promiscuous, and interconnected natural order gained a greater ontological sense of separable and fi xed categories. Through the social construction of distinct, unvarying categories of the natural order, anomalous and improper categories became possible and ‘of interest’. Feral animals are anomalous because of their very nature as outsiders; they serve as warnings, highlight or stand for wider aspects of social anxiety and danger. They are often accounted for as active and disordering entities, whose presence as an external agent is all the more dangerous because it is unbounded by the natural order of things (rules, norms, legitimate categories) that pertain to the world. Such animals gain their potency as sources of danger because they threaten stable and proper categories of the social world. They give the appearance of a natural foundation, legitimacy, and solidity to what are always arbitrary and contestable social norms.