Dilemmas of transgression: Ethical responses in a more-than-human world

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Journal Article
Cultural Geographies, 2017, 24 (2), pp. 213 - 229
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© The Author(s) 2016. To transgress is ‘to do something that is not allowed’; in a human-constructed world, animals, especially those seen as ‘incompanionate’, are often deemed to be doing something not allowed. We explore the ethical dilemmas of ‘transgression’ in the context of critical reflection on an instructive example of dingo–human relations on Fraser Island, Australia, which has incited ongoing debate from diverse publics about the killing of ‘problem’ dingoes. We outline the historical and ethical complexity of such relations and suggest that human–nonhuman encounters, direct or indirect, have the potential to produce new, less anthropocentric topologies in which transgression is reconstructed, and humans and animals can share space more equitably. The kind of knowledge and ethical re-positioning beginning to emerge in dingo–human relations suggests transgression itself as a metaphor for its further re-imagining: a disruption of spatial, emotional and ethical boundaries to shape more responsive, respectful and less anthropocentric topologies.
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