Shaping an Iconic Species : From the giant panda to the red panda and the Tibetan antelope

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för arkeologi och antik historia

Abstract: This thesis is based and developed on the ambiguous and open conception, iconic species, which reveals the relationship between human society and non-human species that goes be- yond its biological status. From the case of the giant panda, I attempt to deconstruct the shap- ing process of an iconic species from multiple perspectives, which includes how a specific cultural context, or a specific historical period contributes to the shaping process and how the government and the public diverge or even clash around the shaping process. Then, I introduce my fieldwork where I through observing both giant pandas and red pandas in the exhibition centres called panda bases to analyse the encountering an iconic species in reality and their different influences on public awareness of the wildlife conservation. I also attempt to explore the various representative forms of an iconic species such as the Tibetan antelope ranging from the mascot to the film and follow the changes of its symbolic meanings in different forms. In conclusion, the thesis is aimed to reflect the hybrid features of the iconic species and pro- vide in-depth interpretation of the endless interactions between the human beings and other species.

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