Histories of Value: Following Deer Populations Through the English Landscape from 1800 to the Present Day
Abstract: Imagining the English landscape as an assemblage entangling deer and people throughout history, this thesis explores how changes in deer population connect to the ways deer have been valued from 1800 to the present day. Its methods are mixed, its sources are conversations – human voices in the ongoing historical negotiations of the multispecies body politic, the moot of people, animals, plants and things which shapes and orders the landscape assemblage. These conversations include interviews with people whose lives revolve around deer, correspondence with the organisations that hold sway over deer lives, analysis of modern media discourse around deer issues and exchanges with the history books. It finds that a non-linear increase in deer populations over the time period has been accompanied by multiple changes in the way deer are valued as part of the English landscape. Ending with a reflection on how this history of value fits in to wider debates about the proper representation of animals, the nature of non-human agency, and trajectories of the Anthropocene, this thesis seeks to open up new ways of exploring questions about human-animal relationships in environmental history.
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