Uncivilized Behaviors: How Humans Wield “Feral” to Assert Power (and Control) over Other Species

Published in 

Society & Animals 


This paper examines the use of the term “feral” as a form of control over other animals. The concept of this “power word” is explored within the context of what it means for those who find themselves labelled as such. As a prefix, “feral” is used by various interest groups to justify the treatment of subpopulations of species, particularly with regards to wildlife conservation. The “feral” label differentiates animals that are perceived as being out of place or out of control from those who are kept as companions or commodities. “Feral” is most often used to describe an unwelcome presence or noise, and can be contrasted to alternative words, such as “wild” or “free-living” that control how these presences are perceived by humans.

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