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The Empire of Beasts Then and Now: Political Cartoons and New Trends in Victorian Animal Studies

L’empire des animaux à l’époque victorienne : caricatures politiques et apport des études animales
Irina Kantarbaeva-Bill

Résumés

Les Victoriens étaient passionnés par les animaux et les utilisaient souvent comme approximations des ‘races’ humaines dans la fiction et la presse. Cet article tente d’analyser l’animal victorien en tant que commentaire politique dans les illustrations de Punch ou London Charivari Magazine au lendemain de la mutinerie de 1857 et dans le contexte des tensions géopolitiques mondiales. En exposant et en affichant des animaux tels que le lion, le tigre, le crocodile et l’ours, les caricatures britanniques populaires ont agi comme des figures rhétoriques complexes qui ont contribué à influencer l’opinion publique et, par conséquent, à mobiliser le soutien populaire à l’Empire. Les animaux non-humains n’ont pas été utilisés qu’à des fins rhétoriques : les bêtes ont fourni leur corps même pour financer et alimenter les projets impériaux, elles ont transporté des administrateurs et des armées à travers et dans des espaces reculés et ont instillé la peur et la fascination chez les colonisés comme chez les colonisateurs. Bien que la tradition historiographique examinant cette relation ne soit pas nouvelle, des études récentes qui s’appuient sur des histoires environnementales et culturelles (ré)introduisent de nombreux sujets saillants, liés aux animaux et à l’impérialisme tels que la conquête, la maladie, l’élevage, la catégorisation scientifique, le bien-être animal, la vivisection, les zoos, la chasse et la conservation.

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1Contrary to the discreet animal presence in canonical British fiction (Morse and Danahay 2007, Rajamannar 2012), wild animals in the visuals and narratives of the Empire are highly visible, particularly in political cartoons and caricatures. They were part and parcel of imperial display conveying ideological messages as well as representing different facets of the imperial activities: conquest, recreation, hierarchy, and racism (McAleer and MacKenzie 3).

2This is my attempt to analyse the animal presence as a political commentary in the visual images of Punch or The London Charivari Magazine in the aftermath of the 1857 Mutiny and the growing geopolitical tensions worldwide. In exhibiting and displaying such animals as the lion, the tiger, the crocodile and the bear while dealing with colonial issues, the popular British cartoons acted as complex rhetorical structures that helped to powerfully influence mass opinion and consequently harnessed the public support for the Empire.

3Non-human animals were not just used for rhetorical purposes: beasts provided their very bodies to fund and fuel imperial projects, carried administrators and armies across vast spaces and into remote spaces, and instilled fear and fascination in colonized and colonizers alike. I will therefore discuss the contemporary historiographical trends on animals and imperialism. While the scholarship recounting this relationship is not new (Singer 1975, Turner 1980, Crosby 1986, Ritvo 1987, Ryder 1989, Haraway 2003), recent studies, built on pioneering environmental and cultural histories, (re)introduced many of the salient topics related to animals and imperialism such as conquest, disease, breeding, scientific categorization, animal welfare, vivisection, zoos, hunting, and conservation.

4Possessing an empire imposed control and administration but also familiarising the British public at home with new territories and peoples which became part of the British Empire. As part of the ‘imperial geographies’ and the ‘imperial ethos’ (Sèbe 2015, 168), the mid-nineteenth century popular British cartoons acted as complex rhetorical shortcuts that helped to powerfully influence mass opinion and consequently harnessed the public support for the Empire. That is when the word ‘cartoon’ acquired its popular meaning of ‘pictorial parody . . . which by the devices of caricature, analogy, and ludicrous juxtaposition sharpens the public view of a contemporary event, folkway, or political or social trend’, whereas ‘caricature’ is ‘the distorted presentation of a person, type, or action’ (Ames), therefore, one of the methods used in cartoons. George Townshend, James Gillray and some others created what we know as ‘political caricature’ by merging together the Italian portrait caricature and symbolical print, brought to 18th-century England by the Dutch (Coupe 84–85). They laid the foundation for what was to become the rich tradition of English cartoon-making, of which Punch Magazine grew out in 1841. Another outstanding source of political cartoons was The Civil and Military Gazette which played an important role in the development of British journalism in the Indian subcontinent, also notable for being the workplace of Rudyard Kipling. It was published from Lahore, Simla and Karachi, sometimes simultaneously, from 1872 until its closure in 1963 along with Delhi Sketch Book, The Indian Charivari, The Oudh Punch, The Punjab Punch, The Indian Punch, Urdu Punch and Parsi Punch.

Political Cartoons in Punch, or The London Charivari

5The official website of the Punch Magazine Cartoon Archive describes Punch as a magazine of humour and satire, that ran from 1841–2002 during which it produced half a million cartoons (‘About PUNCH Magazine Cartoon Archive’). By the mid-Victorian period its readership surpassed the selling numbers, as Punch was perused by visitors to communal spaces, such as libraries, gentlemen’s clubs, lawyers’ offices, etc. (Scully 2011, 70). Punch represented a new generation in political satire, as it distinguished itself for its ‘absence of grossness, partisanship, profanity, indelicacy, and malice from its pages’ (Spielmann 30). This meant a much greater societal effect, as whole generations grew up reading and being influenced by the pictures and texts of the periodical as well as being formed by the ideas of Self and Other that the magazine portrayed (Banta 23).

6At the same time, the milder tone meant self-censorship and restraint. The staff of Punch in the first half of the 1850s, under the printer William Bradbury, was made up of about 10 people: two eminent cartoonists were John Tenniel and John Leech, while the other members were mostly concerned with writing and editing, including the writers Douglas Jerrold, William Makepeace Thackeray, Tom Taylor, Shirley Brooks and the founding editor Mark Lemon (Kemnitz 84). Punch’s main circulation was in the London area, but it made it far beyond and it was ‘circulated widely throughout the British Empire—appearing on the newsstands from Montreal to Melbourne’ where it spawned its own local versions (Scully 8). The magazine’s influence did not stop in the English-speaking world: there are accounts that it was also read in the German and Russian courts of the 19th century, but by the time it reached its readership there, it was already heavily censored (Cross 471; Spielmann 194–95).

‘Beasts of prey’: Carnivorous Animals in the Political Cartoons

7In British political cartoons the colonial animals acted as complex rhetorical structures that powerfully influenced mass opinion. They played off the popular British associations of the tiger (symbolizing India) with darkness and evil, the crocodile (Africa) with treachery, and the bear (Russia) with brutality—in contrast to the lion (symbolizing Britain), associated with royalty and masculinity. Given that all these animals are carnivores, or ‘beasts of prey’, the choice of which animals were classified as vermin was based on a combination of economic, political and cultural factors. Unlike domestic animals who, in ‘serving’ mankind, affirmed the divinely ordained chain of being, carnivores dared to challenge man’s dominance.

8The tiger who, with its supposed reputation as a hunter of men or even a potential man-eater, represented the very epitome of disorder, embodied therefore unacceptable possibilities of a similar insurgency from those lower in the social or racial human scale. The tiger was thus at the top of the species to be eliminated as ‘vermin’, a strangely anomalous and deliberately reductionist choice of term for an animal hitherto venerated in India as godlike, regal and awe-inspiring. As an extreme example, Tipu Sultan, British India’s most troublesome 19th-century adversary, had not only called himself a tiger, but used the animal as a potent symbol in his palace decorations, on the uniforms of his soldiers, on his coins, arms and flag. Hunting and killing a tiger in colonial India and Africa were symbols of class and moral superiority, whereas the emphasis on trophies provided glorious and lasting visual proofs of power (MacKenzie 1988). Not only was the tiger already damned for its ‘disorderly’ ways in British eyes, but it was also a nuisance to the East India Company which needed to have large tracts of forest land cleared in order to grow plantation crops. The resulting deforestation of hundreds of acres of forest land led to large losses of tiger habitat and consequent attacks on both people working in the fields and draught cattle needed for the plantation crops.

9Unlike the tiger, the lion was historically associated with British royalty and monarchy. The conferring of the epithet of king (of beasts) was doubtlessly influenced by the perception in the human mind that the lion’s ‘face’ was close to its own. Perhaps owning to its popular title as King of Beasts, this creature was especially prominent in visual representations of the figure of Britannia or in the pageantry of the Raj. The ornate decorations of the Durbar of 1877, for instance, included shields with the Three Lions of England and the Lion Rampant of Scotland in addition to the Lotus of India and the Irish Harp hanging from the canopy over the ten-foot-high dais of the viceroy (MacKenzie 2015; Cannadine 2001).

10In keeping with the ubiquitousness of such lion and tiger constructs, a number of cartoons, particularly those by well-known Punch illustrator Tenniel, used animals by way of political commentary. Thus, Tenniel’s ‘The British Lion’s Vengeance on the Bengal Tiger’, published after the Mutiny of 1857, was a two-page cartoon, depicting the British Lion pouncing upon a Bengal Tiger who had attacked an English woman and child. The epithet ‘Bengal’ is used for a variety of reasons, the least of which being that the region was famous for its tigers. More significantly, it pejoratively alludes to the natives of India in general with presumed tail-wagging obsequious rapaciousness or latently vicious animality.

Figure 1.—‘The British Lion’s Vengeance on the Bengal Tiger’, Punch, 22 August 1857.

Figure 1.—‘The British Lion’s Vengeance on the Bengal Tiger’, Punch, 22 August 1857.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/​wiki/​File:The_British_Lion%27s_Vengeance_on_the_Bengal_Tiger.jpg (LUC = Royalty Free image).

11‘The British Lion’s Vengeance on the Bengal Tiger’ was widely circulated and expressed the passion with which the British public desired revenge on the Indian natives during the immediate aftermath of the Mutiny. However, three late 19th-century Tenniel cartoons, ‘Figures from a “Triumph”’ (1878), ‘Ready!’ (1885) and ‘Hail, Britannia!’ (1886), portraying Britannia flanked by the lion and the tiger, depict the reintegration of India into the Empire by showing the lion and the tiger standing next to one another, through firm discipline.

12In contrast with the rapacious yet regal Bengal tiger, the crocodile had no honourable associations: as one of the most dangerous animals of India and Africa, the crocodile literally stood in the way of colonial settlement. It emerged as a key 19th-century imperialist association with Napoleon’s 1798 invasion of Egypt. The loathed reptile’s insatiable appetite, false tears as well as alterity underlay this metonymic shift as a ready shorthand for Punch political cartoonists. Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria, who was held responsible by Europe for bloody retributions after the 1848 uprisings, was caricatured as a crocodile, weeping over ‘bleeding Hungary’ while Punch execrated the ‘Shooting of brave soldiers, hanging of venerable legalists and judges, and scouring on the naked back. . . [of] wives and mothers’ (‘About PUNCH Magazine Cartoon Archive’). In the 1840s and 1850s, the beast stood for one of the magazine’s satirical targets, Daniel O’Connell, Irish nationalist leader and founder of the Repeal Association to dissolve the Anglo-Irish union. Punch depicted him in 1845 as a well-dressed crocodile, weeping as he demanded money from his ‘Beloved Countrymen’. Even more loathsome was Cardinal Newman, rector of the Catholic University of Ireland, whom Punch featured as a mitred crocodile under the sardonic title ‘Remarkable Crocodile Found in Ireland’.

13Punch also used crocodiles or alligators, the latter having a more obvious association with the American South, as a derogatory image for the slave-holding states in the pre-Civil War era. In the 1850s anti-abolitionist violence was noted in Punch alongside with the alligator cartoons ‘Sporting in the South’. Finally, in March 1861, a Punch article entitled ‘Alligators in Tears’ depicted reluctant Louisiana secessionists as hypocrites. Noting that members of the Louisiana Convention wept as they voted to leave the union, Punch derided the delegates as ‘Slaveowners, Slave drivers’, crying crocodiles’ or alligators’ tears.

14Given its associations with racial alterity and sexual appetite, it is worth noting one instance, the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny accounts, in which the sexualized crocodile fails to appear, particularly concerning sexual violence and rape. Punch’s representations of the Sepoys repeatedly figure the Bengal tiger threatening to devour, not ravish, a woman and child (see Figure 1). A certain cultural tact prevails here, as if the crocodile’s sexual valences were too horrifying in the immediate aftermath of the Rebellion.

15If the colonial tiger and the crocodile represented a threat from within the Empire either by the insurgent natives or by a failing masculinity, the image of the bear concerned the foreign landscape and a danger from without. It is difficult to trace the first usage of the bear as a symbol of Russia in the West. For most Europeans at this time, Russia was an unknown land—wild, untamed, and full of dangers, which was also evident in maps. In later decades, the bear image evolved into an actual symbol of the country and its people. One of the earliest ‘bear’ images in this category was a caricature of 1812 ‘The Bear, the Bulldog, and the Monkey’ that shows Napoleon as a monkey, Russia as a bear, and Great Britain as a bulldog.

16A survey of bear cartoons published in Punch at mid-century frequently portrayed the competition between Russia and Western powers to assert influence over Central and Eastern Asia. In early 1853, for example, tensions increased between Russia and the Ottoman Empire when Russia moved troops into the Danube region. Turkey in Danger appeared in Punch in the months before the outbreak of the Crimean War in April 1853, illustrating perceived Russian intentions towards the region. Another Russia-Turkey cartoon, which appeared on 22 October 1870, implies that even after the war the Russian bear still had intentions toward Turkey.

Figure 2.—‘Turkey in Danger’, Punch, 1 January 1853.

Figure 2.—‘Turkey in Danger’, Punch, 1 January 1853.

https://en.wikipedia.org/​wiki/​File:Turkey_In_Danger.jpg (Luc = Royalty Free).

17Other cartoons from the later decades of the 19th and early 20th century continued to use the bear symbol as Russia expanded its influence throughout Asia, notably in the geopolitical tensions coined as Great Game. In ‘Save Me from My Friends’, published in Punch in November 1878, the Ameer of Afghanistan watches warily as both the Russian bear and the British lion contemplate their next move. And, as Russia and Japan squared off in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05), the cartoonists were quick to document it as well.

18Given the increasingly varied uses to which animals came to be put in this period, as well as the many symbolic, rhetorical, political and physical burdens they were forced to carry, it is not surprising that accounts of the Victorian animal would emerge in a variety of disciplines and continue to resonate into the 21st century, informed by ideas of animal rights and by new critical perspectives from the ‘posthuman’ to ‘speciesism’.

Recovering the Victorian Animal

  • 1 To cite just a few more scholars, including the seminal revolutionary philosopher Peter Singer (Ani (...)

19The so-called ‘animal turn’ in the humanities and social sciences has undoubtedly enlivened the field of Victorian studies and enriched our understanding of the ways animals were used in a variety of discursive practices during the 19th century. What is of particular interest here is the fact that the development of ‘animal history’ and the revival of ‘imperial history’, or what some historians call ‘new imperial history’, is fuelled by similar historiographical trends, built on pioneering environmental and cultural histories such as those by Alfred Crosby (Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900–1900, 1986), John MacKenzie (The Empire of Nature: Hunting, Conservation and British Imperialism, 1988) and Harriet Ritvo (The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age, 1987).1

20Though perhaps artificially, we can observe several ways that historians are approaching animals.

  • 2 In The Animal Estate, Ritvo examines the attitudes of people who actually worked with animals, such (...)

21First, as we have witnessed above, historians have been recently approaching the topic of animals and imperialism by paying more attention to the figurative side of the human-animal relationship and seeking to connect the symbolic with actual human-animal interactions. In this respect, Harriet Ritvo’s The Animal Estate (1987) and John MacKenzie’s Empire of Nature (1988) analyses serve(d) as models.2

  • 3 See also J. G. Varner and J. J. Varner, Dogs of the Conquest, Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1983.

22To connect actual animals and symbolic animals, some historians draw more readily on a mix of gender, literary, postcolonial studies and other methodologies and disciplines within and beyond the humanities and social sciences. Jon T. Coleman, for example, in Vicious: Wolves and Men in America (2004), combines history with folklore studies and biology to explore both wolves as ‘myth and symbol’ and wolf ‘behaviors, social structures, communication systems, and ecological relationships’ on the U.S. frontier (Coleman x). Brett L. Walker takes a similar approach by employing folklore, biology, and even canine pathology, including first-hand observations of wolves in the company of wildlife biologists in Yellowstone National Park, in The Lost Wolves of Japan (2005), which, like Coleman’s monograph, focuses in part on a process of internal colonization.3

23In addition to Peter Boomgaard’s Frontiers of Fear: Tigers and People in the Malay World, 1600–1950 (2001) as an exercise in environmental (or ecological) history, there are three recent publications on tigers, Vijaya Ramadas Mandala’s Shooting a Tiger: Big-Game Hunting and Conservation in Colonial India (2018) as well as Dane Huckelbridge’s No Beast So Fierce: The Champawat Tiger and Her Hunter, the First Tiger Conservationist (2020) with an enormous amount of research which advances the study of hunting and Empire, together with the conservation aftermath.

24John Simons’s book The Tiger That Swallowed the Boy: Exotic Animals in Victorian England (2012) also explores the surprising extent of the exotic animal trade in nineteenth-century England and its colonies and looks at zoological gardens, travelling menageries, private menageries, circuses and natural history museums, to show exotic animals played a key part in the Imperial project and in the project to ensure that leisure was educational.

25Building upon themes developed in literatures on local custom, law and colonialism, Canadian researcher Douglas C. Harris wrote Fish, Law, and Colonialism: The Legal Capture of Salmon in British Columbia (2001) where he examines the contested nature of the colonial encounter on the scale of a river, drawing on government records, statute books, case reports, newspapers and missionary papers.

26Timothy P. Barnard’s Imperial Creatures: Humans and Other Animals in Colonial Singapore, 1819-1942 (2019) weaves together a series of tales to document how animals were cherished, monitored, employed, and slaughtered in a colonial society. All animals, including humans, Barnard shows, have been creatures of imperialism in Singapore.

27Secondly, recent historical work on animals has become much more specifically concerned with actual animals and with their relationship with humans. In earlier studies, animals were usually just one factor in a broader ecological story. In Ecological Imperialism (1986), Crosby numbers livestock among crops, weeds, and diseases as part of the European biological expansion that brought about changes on the environment and made possible the domination of that continent’s people over much of the world. Crosby’s argument that human colonists came to the new worlds of the Americas and Australasia ‘as part of a grunting, lowing, neighing, crowing, chirping, snarling, buzzing, self-replicating and world-altering avalanche’ was groundbreaking (Crosby 194).

28Similarly, Saurabh Mishra and Andrew Thompson’s Beastly Encounters of the Raj: Livelihoods, Livestock, and Veterinary Health in India, 1790–1920 (2015), examines a social history of cattle in India. Keeping the question of livestock at the centre, the book explores a range of themes such as famines, agrarian relations, urbanisation, middle-class attitudes and caste formations thus integrating medical history with social history in a way that has not often been attempted.

29Likewise, in Creatures of Empire: How Domestic Animals Transformed Early America (2004), Virginia Anderson explores the ‘direct interactions between humans and livestock’, such as cows, sheep, and pigs had on the land and emphasizes the relationship between these ‘creatures of empire’ and humans, both white settlers and indigenous peoples (Anderson 2004, 5). By the same token, John Ryan Fisher in Cattle Colonialism: An Environmental History of the Conquest of California and Hawai’i (Flows, Migrations, and Exchanges) (2017), significantly enlarges the scope of the American West by examining the trans-Pacific transformations these animals wrought on local landscapes and native economies.

30As the title of James L. Hevia’s book Animal Labour and Colonial Warfare (2018) indicates, it examines the use of camels, mules, and donkeys in colonial campaigns of conquest and pacification, starting with the Second Afghan War—during which an astonishing 50,000 to 60,000 camels perished—and ending in the early twentieth century. Hevia explains how during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries a new set of human-animal relations were created as European powers and the United States expanded their colonial possessions and attempted to put both local economies and ecologies in the service of resource extraction. The results were devastating to animals and human communities alike, disrupting centuries-old ecological and economic relationships. And those effects were lasting: Hevia shows how a number of the key issues faced by the postcolonial nation-state of Pakistan—such as shortages of clean water for agriculture, humans, and animals, and limited resources for dealing with infectious diseases—can be directly traced to decisions made in the colonial past.

31A third trend in how historians are dealing with animals in recent studies related to imperialism is an attention to animal agency. Combined with the first two trends, this has encouraged historians to take animals more seriously as historical subjects rather than simply as objects of human activities and discourse. Here, environmental historians like Crosby, who identified fauna, along with flora and microbes, as agents of historical change, took the lead. John Robert McNeill wrote a fascinating Mosquito Empire: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620–1914 (2010), and there is another monograph of 500 pages by Timothy C. Winegard, The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator (2019).

32Aaron Skabelund, specialist in modern Japanese history, in Empire of Dogs: Canines, Japan, and the Making of the Modern Imperial World (2011) examines the history and cultural significance of dogs in 19th- and 20th-century Japan. The book highlights how dogs joined with humans to create the modern imperial world and how, in turn, imperialism shaped dogs’ bodies and their relationship with people through its impact on dog-breeding and dog-keeping. Likewise, Guy Hull’s The Dogs That Made Australia (2018) traces Australia’s dogs contribution to Australia’s development.

33Michael D. Wise, Producing Predators: Wolves, Work, and Conquest in the Northern Rockies (2016) argues that contestations between Native and non-Native people over hunting, labour, and the livestock industry drove the development of predator eradication programs in Montana and Alberta from the 1880s onward. The history of these anti-predator programs was significant not only for their ecological effects, but also for their enduring cultural legacies of colonialism in the Northern Rockies.

34Andrea L. Smalley, Wild by Nature: North American Animals Confront Colonization (2017) shows that abundant wild animals—from beavers and wolves to fish, deer, and bison—proved far less malleable to colonizers’ designs. Their behaviour constrained an English colonial vision of a reinvented and rationalized American landscape.

  • 4 One of the most conspicuous examples is the six-volume series, A Cultural History of Animals, Linda (...)

35A fourth trend focusing on animals and imperialism asks for more histories that place less emphasis on the Western imperial powers and sheds more light on the comparative perspective of the colonized (human and animal alike), examining both the metropolis and the empire, in a transnational and trans-imperial sense.4 In the opening chapter of Breeds of Empire: The ‘Invention’ of the Horse in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa 1500–1950 (2007), Greg Bankoff and Sandra Swart observe that ‘recent scholarship . . . is . . . still exclusively Eurocentric or neo-Eurocentric, about animals in Europe or in its off-shoot settler societies’ (Bankoff and Swart 8–9). This is indeed still the case.

  1. Fortunately, historians of non-Western fields are increasingly showing a greater interest in animals. Bernhard Gissibl in The Nature of German Imperialism: Conservation and the Politics of Wildlife in Colonial East Africa (2019), gives the first full account of Tanzanian wildlife conservation up until World War I, focusing upon elephant hunting and the ivory trade as vital factors in a shift from exploitation to preservation that increasingly excluded indigenous Africans. To this we can add Yuka Suzuki’s The Nature of Whiteness: Race, Animals, and Nation in Zimbabwe (2017).

  2. The first serious academic history of a zoo not located in the West in Ian J. Miller’s The Nature of the Beasts: Empire and Exhibition at the Tokyo Imperial Zoo (2013) is a welcome addition to that topic. Edward I. Steinhart in Black Poachers, White Hunters: A Social History of Hunting in Colonial Kenya (2006) and John F. Richards with John R. Mcneill in The World Hunt (2014) have complemented John MacKenzie’s early comparative study by examining, as the title indicates, both the colonizers and colonized. There is a new book by Melbourne researchers Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver, The Colonial Kangaroo Hunt (2020), where they examine hunting narratives in novels, visual art and memoirs to discover how the kangaroo became a favourite quarry, a relished food source, an object of scientific fascination, and a source of violent conflict between settlers and Aboriginal people. The kangaroo hunt worked as a rite of passage and an expression of settler domination over native species and land. But it also enabled settlers to begin to comprehend the complexity of bush ecology, raising early concerns about species extinction and the need for conservation and preservation of habitat.

  3. Yet many other geographic contexts and aspects of the relationship between animals and imperialism remain to be explored. Fortunately, an increasing number of historians are pursuing projects related to exhibiting animals and imperialism that are transnational and trans-imperial in breadth. This is only appropriate because animals are border crossers. To name just a few of such studies: Martha Few and Zeb Tortorici published an edited volume on Centering Animals in Latin American History (2013), which includes several chapters on the colonial era; Alan Mikhail followed up on Nature and Empire (2011) in The Animal in Ottoman Egypt (2016) and Under Osman’s Tree (2017). Joan B. Landes, Paula Young Lee and Paul Youngquist edited Gorgeous Beasts: Animal Bodies in Historical Perspective (2012) and Pete Minard recently published All Things Harmless, Useful, and Ornamental: Environmental Transformation Through Species Acclimatization, from Colonial Australia to the World (2019), to which we can add Laurence W. Mazzeno and Ronald D. Morrison’s Animals in Victorian Literature and Culture: Contexts for Criticism (2017) and Ann C. Colley’s Wild Animal Skins in Victorian Britain: Zoos, Collections, Portraits, and Maps (2014).

36The Victorian period has been a particularly fruitful area of inquiry for those interested in the role of animals in human culture, as well as in the ethical issues raised by the ways of viewing and using animals in this period. The use of animals as a political commentary in Punch in the second half of the 19th century as well as the range of meanings attributed to the nonhuman animal in this period continue to resonate into the 21st century.

37Though a consideration of animals and imperialism is not unprecedented, Victorian scholars are approaching these topics in new ways. These approaches, some of which were mentioned above, are not necessarily specific to the study of animals and imperialism but are reflective of broader trends in the history of animals. They also reflect wider developments in history, including the history of imperialism, environmental history as well as other intellectual influences. There are surely many other promising works related to the showcasing of Victorian animals and imperialism in progress since a lot of this historical territory remains unexplored.

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Notes

1 To cite just a few more scholars, including the seminal revolutionary philosopher Peter Singer (Animal Liberation, 1975), Richard Ryder (Animal Revolution, 1989), Keith Tester (Animals and Society, 1991) and Donna Haraway (Companion Species Manifesto, 2003). See also H. Peter Steeves and Tom Regan, Animal Others: On Ethics, Ontology, and Animal Life (1999) and James Turner, Reckoning with the Beast: Animals, Pain, and Humanity in the Victorian Mind (1980).

2 In The Animal Estate, Ritvo examines the attitudes of people who actually worked with animals, such as farmers, pet keepers, sportsmen, and zoologists and in Empire of Nature, MacKenzie is concerned with big-game hunters.

3 See also J. G. Varner and J. J. Varner, Dogs of the Conquest, Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1983.

4 One of the most conspicuous examples is the six-volume series, A Cultural History of Animals, Linda Kalof, Brigitte Resl (Eds.), Bloomsbury, 2007. The Eurocentric focus is given away by the very periodization of the subtitles of each volume: Antiquity, The Medieval Age, The Renaissance, The Enlightenment, The Age of Empire, and The Modern Age, as well as by their content. To be fair, the emphasis on Europe and its off-shoot settler societies of North America, South America, South Africa, and Australasia reflects how animal studies developed as a field of study.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1.—‘The British Lion’s Vengeance on the Bengal Tiger’, Punch, 22 August 1857.
Crédits https://commons.wikimedia.org/​wiki/​File:The_British_Lion%27s_Vengeance_on_the_Bengal_Tiger.jpg (LUC = Royalty Free image).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cve/docannexe/image/8989/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 400k
Titre Figure 2.—‘Turkey in Danger’, Punch, 1 January 1853.
Crédits https://en.wikipedia.org/​wiki/​File:Turkey_In_Danger.jpg (Luc = Royalty Free).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cve/docannexe/image/8989/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 261k
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Irina Kantarbaeva-Bill, « The Empire of Beasts Then and Now: Political Cartoons and New Trends in Victorian Animal Studies »Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens [En ligne], 93 Printemps | 2021, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2021, consulté le 24 juillet 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/cve/8989 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/cve.8989

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Auteur

Irina Kantarbaeva-Bill

Irina Kantarbaeva-Bill is a member of research centres CAS (Cultures Anglo-Saxonnes) and LLA (Lettres, Langages et Arts) at the University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France. Her research interests include the history, literature and cultural studies of the English-speaking world, Slavonic Studies as well as travel writing and art history. Her recent publications include an edited volume entitled ‘Anglophone Travel and Exploration Writing: Meetings Between the Human and Nonhuman/Les Rencontres de l’humain et du non-humain dans la littérature de voyage et d’exploration anglophone’, Caliban, French Journal of English Studies, 59 (Toulouse: PUM, 2018) and a monography on British travel writing in Central Asia (Genève: Olizane, 2019). She recently published a new edition of Henry Lansdell’s Chinese Central Asia (London: Bloomsbury, 2020).
Irina Kantarbaeva-Bill est membre des équipes de recherche CAS (Cultures Anglo-Saxonnes) et LLA (Lettres, Langages et Arts) de l’université de Toulouse Jean-Jaurès, France. Elle s’intéresse aux études culturelles des mondes anglophone et slave ainsi qu’aux récits de voyages. Ses publications récentes comprennent la direction du numéro ‘Les Rencontres de l’humain et du non-humain dans la littérature de voyage et d’exploration anglophone/Anglophone Travel and Exploration Writing : Meetings Between the Human and Nonhuman’, Caliban, French Journal of English Studies, 59 (Toulouse : PUM, 2018) et une monographie sur les voyageurs britanniques en Asie centrale à l’époque victorienne (Genève : Olizane, 2019). Elle vient de publier une nouvelle édition de Chinese Central Asia d’Henry Lansdell (Londres : Bloomsbury, 2020).

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