Humans and Animals: A Geography of Coexistence. Edited by Julie Urbanik and Connie L. Johnston. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2017. 466 p. Acid free. $89. (ISBN: 978-1-4408-3834-7). E-book available (ISBN: 978-1-4408-3835-4). Call for pricing.

Homo sapien is just one species among millions of other animals here on Planet Earth. In the space of just a few thousand years, however, humans have altered the balance of life on this cosmic speck in ways large and small. That alone would be reason enough to warrant the publication of this volume, an examination of human-animal relationships. The editors provide an additional motive, pointing out that “as animals ourselves, our very survival as a species is intimately connected to these others” (xi). It behooves us, then, to understand how we can all just get along together, as denoted by “coexistence” in the subtitle.

In some 150 alphabetically arranged entries, topics both expected and unexpected contribute to the reader’s comprehension of this love-hate affair. The former is exemplified by the articles “Pets,” “Working Animals,” and “Zoos,” while the latter includes “Domestic Violence and Animal Cruelty,” “Invasive Species,” and “Mad Cow Disease.” Thought provoking subjects are covered in “Animal Assisted Therapy,” “Emotions, Animal,” “Intelligence,” “Popular Media, Animals In,” along with a host of other equally interesting material. Each article is signed by its writer and concludes with cross-references and a further reading list. Writing style is appropriate for senior high school/undergraduate college students, with minimum jargon (a separate glossary defines technical terms). Illustration is sparse, consisting of black-and-white photographs. Special features include the “Primary Documents” section, which offers a selection of excerpts from Congressional legislation, books, etc. and a concluding bibliography.

The editors are well versed in their subject matter and equally well qualified to helm a project such as this. Julie Urbanik, PhD (geography, Clark University), is the author of Placing Animals: An Introduction to the Geography of Human-Animal Relations (Roman & Littlefield, 2012). In addition to her many publications, she is also responsible for producing the first animal geography-based documentary, Kansas City: An American Zoopolis. Connie Johnston likewise holds a doctoral degree from Clark University and is currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Geography, DePaul University. Although not as widely published as her coeditor, Johnston was awarded a National Science Foundation grant for her research on the geography of farmed animal welfare in the United States and Europe. The contributors represent a cross-section of the field, most holding advanced degrees and performing original research on human-animal relations.

While there is a robust narrative literature concerning human-animal relationships, reference works are almost nonexistent. Indeed, the only other title to be found is the four-volume Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships: A Global Exploration of Our Connections with Animals (Greenwood, 2007). This supports the editors’ assertion that the title under review is “the first one-volume encyclopedia to address the geography of human-animal coexistence for a general audience” (ix). It is this reviewer’s opinion that Humans and Animals is a highly readable and informative work that deserves a place on the shelves of all public and academic libraries, especially those of the latter that support geography, social studies, or animal rights and welfare curricula.—Michael F. Bemis, Independent Reference Book Reviewer, Oakdale, Minnesota


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ALA Privacy Policy

© 2023 RUSA