• Finally understanding domestication

    Posted on February 9th, 2014 mollyo92 4 comments

    I’m really glad we read Animals as Domesticates by Clutton-Brock this week. It seems we’re finally getting in to really discussing domestication and I’m starting to grasp the process. Unlike Bulliet, Clutton-Brock began her book with a basic background of domestication. In class it kept being mentioned that dogs were the first domesticated animals. This is something that seemed obvious to everyone but me, given that I really know nothing about domesticated animals. But this fact started to really make sense with this week’s readings. Strangely, the Bulliet book seemed to begin to discuss the actual process of domestication more this week than the introduction did. It’s confusing to me that Bulliet chose to begin his book with a lot of confusing, and dare I say nonsense, about the postdomestic era and an obsession with blood and sex, and then finally in the middle of the book he begins explaining the process of domestication. As someone with zero prior knowledge on the subject, I would have appreciated this discussion a lot earlier. His points in the beginning would probably have made a lot more sense as well.

    But moving away from Bulliet and back to Clutton-Brock, I’m also glad she is picking up on the question of whether humans are natural or artificial. This is something I’m very interested in exploring during the course, and it’s starting to come together. As I begin to read some of the theories of domestication, I can’t help but think of domestication as being similar to co-evolution. I’m definitely no scientist, but it seems to me that the way in which humans have changed the evolution of certain species, has also changed the evolution humans. We have changed our eating habits, hunting habits, we don’t need to run as fast, or work as hard because we have certain animals to assist us. Although people may call human activity, including domestication of animals “artificial,” it appears to me at this point to be very natural. Perhaps the development of certain animals species was also supposed to be affected by humans, just as some species of parasites and hosts have co-evolved and affected each other. I’ll end my rambling thoughts here, in the hopes that this is something we can further talk over in class, and perhaps someone with a lot more scientific knowledge than I have can offer me some clarity. I lastly wanted to share an article I came across the other day. I know in Clutton-Brock, it’s somewhat a question as to where and when dogs were first domesticated, and this article brings some new evidence to light. Given the class interest in dog domestication, it may be a good article to look over.