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Zooland: The Institution of Captivity (The Cultural Lives of Law) Paperback – November 28, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Braverman, a law and geography professor, neither supports nor condemns zoos. Rather, she provides a detailed examination of how zoos work. Basing her discussion on French philosopher Michel Foucault’s concept of pastoral power (i.e, the shepherd’s power of care for his sheep), she focuses on the management of zoo animals through care. Beginning with the design of zoo exhibits and the continued emphasis on naturalistic enclosures that immerse the viewer in the animals’ world, Braverman moves on to the various ways zoo animals are classified (endangered, in a breeding program, etc.) and how zoo animals are seen and perceived by their visitors. The naming of zoo animals involves both the politics of giving names to individual animals and codification, as each animal is assigned a number. The author’s accounts of record keeping, a fairly new practice, and the laws regulating the keeping of zoo animals as well as the complexity of deciding which animals will be allowed to reproduce will be eye opening for most readers. --Nancy Bent


"Braverman's Zooland engages with the new zoos of the 21st century. It is an innovative book, adding a new chapter to understanding how zoos evolve . . . Drawing upon Foucault, Braverman's ethnography of North American zoos presents an innovative, bold, and in-depth study of how zoos are conceived, managed, organized, spatialized, recorded, managed, and governed."—Eve Darien-Smith, Political & Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR)

"Zooland: The Institution of Captivity views the history of American zoos through a different lens, relating the history of animal regulation and government to Michel Foucault's discussion of panopticon and pastoral power . . . Braverman's treatment of the history and the practice of modern zoos is comprehensive in both its research and presentation . . . [W]ith this Foucaultian approach it is certainly appropriate to apply the ideas of both the panopticon and pastoral power to the care of captive animals. This book provides a detailed perspective on the pertinent issues facing the modern zoological park."—Tanya Mueller, Journal of Anthropological Research

"This book is a timely addition to the growing literature on zoos and human-animal relations . . . [T]here is much [in this book] to interest anthropologists . . . [I]t is a study that deserves to be taken seriously . . . [T]his book may garner as much interest from anthropologists and scholars of governance and institutional life and from those interested in regimes of value and property. It is also, I believe, a text that will help engage students in the kinds of anthropological questions these areas of inquiry aim to provoke."—Adam Reed, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"Irus Braverman's recent book Zooland is a wonderful read on a topic that is of both historical and current interest—zoos . . . Braverman does an admirable job of walking the line between zoo advocacy and condemnation and tracing an important historical and cultural shift in the self-understandings of those involved in the increasingly bureaucratized and professionalized institutional care and control of zoo animals. One gets a sense from the book and the voices of her interview subjects that zoo professionals really do care about these animals . . . The book puts forward their perspective fairly and with a great deal of compassion. On the other hand, it is steadfast in highlighting the contradictions and problems with zoo messaging that many of us have experienced and have probably only dimly perceived on a visit to our local zoo."—Angela Fernandez, Jotwell: The Journal of Things We Like (Lots)

"The book's most striking chapters go beyond animal bodies to consider zoo databases, regulations, and the new technologies that bring animal bodies into being. Braverman's exploration of the backstage practices of zooland makes for fascinating reading . . . Zooland stands as an admirable achievement and a welcome addition to the literature on zoos, as well as showing how biopolitics encompass more than human life. Braverman's research really gets to the heart of the paradox that the institution of captivity is an expression of care, even if that care justifies death and suffering."—Franklin Ginn, Environment and Planning D
"[Zooland] builds a thorough depiction of the history and contemporary work and goals of zoos and explores the nature of wildness, care, and power by interviewing zoo professionals, animal rights activists, and others, as well as diving into a wide range of legal and scholarly literature from fields as diverse as geography, sociology, animal sciences, and philosophy."—J. R. Page, CHOICE
"[Zooland] gives a glimpse of zoos, in the same way that zoos give a glimpse of nature: a quick look behind the scenes, at a slightly upward angle, inspiring respect."—Daniel Engber, Slate Magazine
"Zoos can provide a valuable service to society, but the pursuit of profit has their own drawbacks. Zooland: The Institution of Captivity explores the modern state of the zoo, as forces within the community paint two very different pictures: the zoo has a preserver and educator on the topic of wildlife, and zoo as the carnival, exploiting animals for profit. With sixty interviews with many people voicing their ideas on the topic, Zooland is scholarly and much recommended addition to any wildlife and social issues collection."—Midwest Book Review
"Irus Braverman has written a wonderful monograph that explores the operation of zoos—institutions that manage to be utterly familiar while retaining an aura of mystery. It will undoubtedly be a popular addition to many academic disciplines."—Kevin D. Haggerty, Surveillance and Society
"Irus Braverman has written a very important book about zoos. Her Zooland: The Institution of Captivity is a penetrating and insightful study of the business of zoos. It will serve as a basic reference and should be in the personal library of everyone interested in zoos."—Buffalo News

"Zoos have increasingly become an interconnected network of spaces in which animal populations can be managed and sustained despite the threats they face in the wild. This network is the 'Zooland' of the book's title, and its advocates portray it as a kind of Noah's Ark, 'containing the animals safely until the storm passes'. This is the essence of how modern zoos see themselves, one distilled by Braverman, a scholar of law and geography, in interviews with more than 70 zoo administrators and activists from both sides. Zooland is an insightful catalogue of zoos' claims and contradictions."—Stephen Cave, Financial Times

"[Braverman's] accounts of record keeping, a fairly new practice, and the laws regulating the keeping of zoo animals as well as the complexity of deciding which animals will be allowed to reproduce, will be eye opening for most readers."—Nancy Bent, BOOKLIST

"Beautifully written, finely researched, astutely argued, Zooland offers a wealth of stories, data, and views to understand the potent work of zoos and their life-propagating messiness, astonishing technologies, and detailed ordering of their captive subjects deemed wild."—Donna Haraway, University of California at Santa Cruz, author of When Species Meet

"Brave and important, this new work puts the governance of animals at the heart of the debates about governance more broadly. Zooland opens up our understandings of social and spatial management, surveillance, classification and control, helping us understa

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Product Details

  • Series: The Cultural Lives of Law
  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford Law Books (November 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804783586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804783583
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Irus Braverman is an Associate Professor of Law and an Adjunct Professor of Geography at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Her main interests lie in the interdisciplinary study of law, geography, and anthropology. Writing within this nexus, she has researched illegal houses, trees, checkpoints, public toilets, and zoos.

Her first book, "House Demolitions in East Jerusalem: 'Illegality' and Resistance," focuses on how planning laws and regulations applied in East Jerusalem create a discriminatory urban landscape and produce illegal spaces. Her second book, "Planted Flags: Trees, Land, and Law in Israel/Palestine" (Cambridge University Press, 2009) describes how acts of planting and uprooting trees have facilitated the struggle over land and identity in Israel/Palestine. Her current project draws on over seventy interviews with zoo administrators from across North America to offer a rare glimpse into the nature of contemporary zoos as they carefully govern their animals.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By barbara on January 12, 2015
Format: Paperback
I just finished the book and found it very interesting.
Because the book is published by Stanford Law Books, I initially thought that it would be a difficult (and potentially boring) read strictly addressing the legal issues and conflicts "attached" to zoos. However, while one chapter does address federal legislation as well as AZA standards and guidelines (all interesting), the book itself addresses the intricacies of how zoos (primarily AZA-accredited zoos) operate. It covers such topics as naming animals (from the 'personalized' names to tracking identification); registering animals (understanding the role of the zoo registrar); seeing animals (from a visitor perspective to understanding the effects of exhibit design to back-of-house areas and video monitoring); reproducing animals (how and why certain animals or animal species are bred or not bred); and several other topics.
It is neither pro- nor anti-zoo but rather a study of the complexities involved in the operation of a North American AZA-accredited zoo.
I found it to be a well written and thought provoking book.
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