By Colin Jerolmack

The pigeon is the critical urban chicken. Domesticated hundreds of thousands of years in the past as a messenger and a resource of foodstuff, its presence on our sidewalks is so universal that individuals examine the poultry a nuisance—if they detect it in any respect. but pigeons also are saved for excitement, activity, and revenue through humans world wide, from the “pigeon wars” waged through breeding lovers within the skies over Brooklyn to the Million greenback Pigeon Race held each year in South Africa.

Drawing on greater than 3 years of fieldwork throughout 3 continents, Colin Jerolmack lines our complicated and infrequently contradictory courting with those flexible animals in public areas akin to Venice’s Piazza San Marco and London’s Trafalgar sq. and in working-class and immigrant groups of pigeon breeders in big apple and Berlin. by way of exploring what he calls “the social event of animals,” Jerolmack indicates how our interactions with pigeons supply amazing insights into urban existence, neighborhood, tradition, and politics. Theoretically understated and available to readers of all stripes, The worldwide Pigeon is the best and most unusual ethnographies to be released in decades.

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Human-animal researchers, however, have demonstrated the depth and complexity of people’s everyday interactions with their pet dogs and cats, in which they jointly construct elaborate routines that are marked by bodily communication and attunement to each other’s actions. A few scholars have taken this as evidence that humans and their pets do share symmetrical understandings of the situation and have some ability to take the role of the other. ”11 But must humans and animals share symbols to interact?

As one pigeon jumped onto her knee, Anna asked me if I had met her friend Spots. She claimed “he” is a good bird, for when he gets enough to eat he leaves. Anna told me that she had three or four “favorites,” Spots and Nasty among them. She wondered aloud where Nasty was, expecting him to be here. I asked her if the pigeons have different personalities, and she told me they do. Elaborating, she said that Nasty picks fights with everyone, and that he always tries to get into her pockets. Just then she noticed that Nasty had arrived.

15 In focused feeding, humans appeared to become lost in the flow of the encounter; they allowed themselves to be enveloped in these momentary associations. Its reward was its own repetition. And because pigeons—like most animals—were capable of action independent of direct human manipulation, they could also add an enjoyable spice of uncertainty for humans. Though we may know that pigeons in the park want to eat when they Feeding the Pigeons 39 approach us, we can totally disregard their mental states and simply enjoy feeding them.

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