London

London

With a population of 8.2 million, London is one of the wealthiest cities in the world.  Farm animals, particularly cattle, important for metropolitan milk supply in the 19th century, are no longer features of the urban landscape.  Cultivated ecologies have been rendered ‘out of place’ through a range of historical and contemporary forms of ordering the city, starting with mid-19th century public health reformers looking to cleanse the then filthy urban environment.  Urban poultry-keeping has now witnessed a resurgence as inhabitants seek to imagine and enact alternate urban imaginaries and resisting mass-consumerism.

Histories of regulating animal life in London also speak to feral ecologies.  The rise of the Victorian pet dog in the late 19th century went hand-in-hand with the illegalization of strays, normalizing their capture and re-homing.  Dog-walking and creating canine-friendly spaces was a new way of reimagining the city and associated ideas of hearth and home.  As an erstwhile imperial metropole, London has been witness to significant traffic in animals and plants.  This has given rise to ecologies that are postcolonial and cosmopolitan, constituted through new assemblages forged between species that have no past evolutionary history of co-composition.  Feral parakeets, brought to London through the pet commodity trade, are a poignant example.  The urban wild in London includes a large population of foxes, which made their way to the metropolis with suburbanization. 

The strong biopolitics of administering life, specific histories of urbanization and colonialism, as well as the surveillance and regulation of nonhuman populations makes London a productive entry point for a comparative analysis of urban ecologies