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Animal lives

Fudge, Erica (2004) Animal lives. History Today, 54 (10). pp. 21-26. ISSN 0018-2753

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The writer discusses the possibility of writing an animal's biography. It may be too simple to assume that anthropocentrism—a belief in the centrality and superiority of human beings—is the reason why the concept of biography has always been applied uniquely to humans. To write a “life” may not just be to present a series of “facts” but to bear testimony to that individual's capacity to communicate through language the subject's own self-understanding. Using this rationale, the subject of biography is always potentially the subject of autobiography. The exclusion of animals from the Dictionary of National Biography does not just demonstrate the ongoing anthropocentrism of history as a discipline, but it also demonstrates the continuation of a version of human selfhood that is, and always has been, created out of, in exclusion from, and by the naming of animals.