A technopolitical analysis of feral and free-roaming animal classification technologies
Published online: 04 Oct 2021
Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies,
Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA
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Ferality, as a concept, may be a hopeful potential of thriving life in the Anthropocene; however, ferality remains problematically grounded in contested nature-culture binaries. Government programs continue to use ferality as a classification and valuation technology, and ultimately, as a mathematical solution to a political nightmare. By approaching trap-neuter-return (TNR) policies in Miami through a technopolitical framework, this paper critically examines technologies used to identify, measure, and value free-roaming urban animals through programs to make them either live or die for strategic political agendas. TNR programs homogenize entire populations of “feral” animals. Miami’s TNR of kittens demonstrates the need for policies that acknowledge heterogeneous free-roaming animal experiences. This case study unpacks the fleshly consequences of reducing complex nonhuman animal histories to abstract statistical performance metrics. Detailed analysis of this management technology illustrates links between public pressure, political interest, and the perceived need to manage human-nonhuman relations in dense urban spaces.
KEYWORDS: Ferality, cats, more-than-human, animal politics, killability, multispecies ethnography