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Pet grief: When is non-human life grievable?
Mälardalens högskola, Hälsa och välfärd. (HumAnimal Group)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9902-1191
2015 (English)In: Sociological Review, ISSN 0038-0261, E-ISSN 1467-954X, Vol. 63, no 1, 19-35 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study explores how pet owners grieve their pets and view their pets' transience. Drawing on Butler's notion of the differential allocation of grievability, I have analysed interviews with eighteen pet owners. Butler argues that grievability is made possible by a normative framework which allows for some human or human-like lives to be grieved, while other lives are rendered 'lose-able'. All the interviewed pet owners say that they are capable of grieving a non-human animal, but analysis suggests that they make their pets grievable and ungrievable by turns. I argue that by maintaining this ambivalence, the interviewees negotiate pets' inclusion in a human moral community while simultaneously defending human exceptionalism. The article concludes with a discussion of pet grief as a potentially destabilizing emotion. I suggest that grieving beings on the border between grievable human and lose-able animal - 'werewolves' according to Giorgio Agamben - may be a powerful way of challenging normative frameworks which arbitrarily render some human and non-human lives lose-able.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 63, no 1, 19-35 p.
Keyword [en]
Animal studies, Bereavement, Companion animals, Giorgio Agamben, Grief, Human-animal relations, Judith Butler, Loss, Mourning, Pets
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-261558DOI: 10.1111/1467-954X.12226ISI: 000350250500002ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84923501197OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-261558DiVA: diva2:850684
Available from: 2015-03-09 Created: 2015-09-01 Last updated: 2015-09-02

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Redmalm, David
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