Care and its discontents: Commodification, coercive cooperation, and resistance in Copenhagen Zoo

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Abstract

Through ethnographic attunement to the emotionally complex relationships between zookeepers and nonhuman animals, commodification in the political economy of Copenhagen Zoo produces a form of care characterized by coercive cooperation. Amidst the coercive constraints of captivity, keepers depict relationships as ranging from those of explicit coercion, where the animals are made to work, to those of cooperation, where the animals are perceived as working with. Within this context, zoo animals can be better understood as “cooperative commodities”, lively commodities that are perceived as cooperating in their commodification. The belief in cooperation also reframes potential moments of resistance as opportunities to respond and thereby lessen the emotional toll on zookeepers when maladaptive behaviors highlight the failings of their captive environment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning E: Nature and Space
Volume6
Issue3
Pages (from-to)1923-1939
Number of pages17
ISSN2514-8494
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Keywords

  • Denmark
  • Human–animal relations
  • commodity
  • conservation
  • multispecies ethnography

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