Academic Absurdity of the Week: Getting Squirrelly

How’s this for some really squirrelly scholarship, from Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography:

When ‘Angelino’ squirrels don’t eat nuts: a feminist posthumanist politics of consumption across southern California

Teresa Lloro-Bidart

Abstract

Eastern fox squirrels (Sciurus niger), reddish-brown tree squirrels native to the eastern and southeastern United States, were introduced to and now thrive in suburban/urban California. As a result, many residents in the greater Los Angeles region are grappling with living amongst tree squirrels, particularly because the state’s native western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) is less tolerant of human beings and, as a result, has historically been absent from most sections of the greater Los Angeles area. ‘Easties,’ as they are colloquially referred to in the popular press, are willing to feed on trash and have an ‘appetite for everything.’ Given that the shift in tree squirrel demographics is a relatively recent phenomenon, this case presents a unique opportunity to question and re-theorize the ontological given of ‘otherness’ that manifests, in part, through a politics whereby animal food choices ‘[come] to stand in for both compliance and resistance to the dominant forces in [human] culture’. I, therefore, juxtapose feminist posthumanist theories and feminist food studies scholarship to demonstrate how eastern fox squirrels are subjected to gendered, racialized, and speciesist thinking in the popular news media as a result of their feeding/eating practices, their unique and unfixed spatial arrangements in the greater Los Angeles region, and the western, modernist human frame through which humans interpret these actions. I conclude by drawing out the implications of this research for the fields of animal geography and feminist geography.

Something about “nuts” comes to mind in connection with this, but I can’t quite place it. . .

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