Interfaces of Felidae and Extinction: 'Victim' and 'Cause'
Introducing his classic study on feline ethology, Paul Leyhausen notes that, while humans devote much attention to studying higher primates on the notion that they are closest to humans, we will not understand the violent practices of humans without studying animals like felines (also very close to humans (95 vs 98% genetic similarity), but much less-studied). The focus of these considerations is the multi-valent role of felines in extinction, exploring several different interfaces of cats, humans, and other beings in larger dynamics of ecology and extinction. Roberto Marchesini, Gloria Anzaldua, and Deborah Bird Rose use the concept of interface to study cognitive, cultural, and ethical intertwinings and overflows between various species. Many large cats are under high extinction pressure due to the encroachment of habitat and eradication by humans. Lions, tigers, panthers (such as the Florida panther), and the Iberian Lynx, among others, face population pressure. In the complex entanglement between feline and human societies some hundreds of millions of 'domestic' and 'feral' cats are killed globally each year in a 'zoecide' that accompanies current human society, alongside the massive zoecide in meat production. On the other hand, so-called domestic felines are pointed to as exerting a strong environmental factor in killing marsupials, birds, or rodents. Recent news headlines about studies attributing billions of bird and small animal deaths to cats in the United States bear this out, as do accounts in Australia faulting cats for marsupial, songbird, and penguin killing.
Jeffrey Bussolini is Associate Professor at City University of New York and Co-Director of the Avenue B Multi-Studies Center (which houses the Center for Feline Studies and the Center for the Ethnographic and Historical Study of Los Alamos and National Security). Has conducted ethnographic study of Los Alamos and related institutions since 1991, and etho-ethnographic study of feline-feline and feline-human interactions since 1995.
Appeared as “Feline Sociologist” in the VICE Media/Tribeca Film Festival film Lil Bub and Friendz in 2013, and edited and translated for a special issue of Angelaki: A Journal of the Theoretical Humanities (19.3, Fall 2014) on philosophical ethology and the work of Dominique Lestel (to be followed by two others on Vinciane Despret and Roberto Marchesini). Jeffrey published “Recent French, Belgian and Italian work in the cognitive science of animals: Dominique Lestel, Vinciane Despret, Roberto Marchesini and Giorgio Celli” in Social Science Information, 52.2 May 2013; and “Toward Cat Phenomenology: A Search for Animal Being,” Found Object #8 May 2000. He also published “Los Alamos as Laboratory for Domestic Security Measures: Nuclear Age Battlefield Transformations and the Ongoing Permutations of Security” Geopolitics 16.2 2011, and “The Wen Ho Lee Affair: Between Race and National Security” in Implicating Empire, ed. Aronowitz and Gautney, Basic Books, 2002. He translated Dominique Lestel's The Friends of My Friends: On Animal Friendship, forthcoming with Columbia University Press.