Synopses & Reviews
Crows and people share similar traits and social strategies. To a surprising extent, to know the crow is to know ourselves.
from the Preface
From the cave walls at Lascaux to the last painting by Van Gogh, from the works of Shakespeare to those of Mark Twain, there is clear evidence that crows and ravens influence human culture. Yet this influence is not unidirectional, say the authors of this fascinating book: people profoundly influence crow culture, ecology, and evolution as well.
John Marzluff and Tony Angell examine the often surprising ways that crows and humans interact. The authors contend that those interactions reflect a process of cultural coevolution. They offer a challenging new view of the human-crow dynamic; a view that may change our thinking not only about crows but also about ourselves.
Featuring more than 100 original drawings, the book takes a close look at the influences people have had on the lives of crows throughout history and at the significant ways crows have altered human lives. In the Company of Crows and Ravens illuminates the entwined histories of crows and people and concludes with an intriguing discussion of the crow-human relationship and how our attitudes toward crows may affect our cultural trajectory.
"Colin Jerolmackand#8217;s book is a wonderful celebration of the ways some people interact with pigeons."
"I gladly assert that this innovative monograph belongs to theand#160;small and excellent body of work that carries urban ethnography into the twenty first century,and#160;and this is no small feat at all."
"This is a scholarly but highly accessible account ofand#160;some of the ways in which human beings interact with pigeons. Jerolmack draws on an impressive breadth of ethnographic researchand#160;conducted across several years and three continents, and constructsand#160;a sustained theoretical argument calling for the integration of studiesand#160;of human-animal interaction into the sociological canon, and polemicising convincingly with anthropocentric as well as natureromanticisingand#160;accounts of the relationship between human beings andand#160;the natural world."
". . . In New York, hundreds ofand#160;people casually toss chunks of bagel or pizzaand#160;crust at feral pigeons; others carry whole bags ofand#160;bread to feed them with, despite long-standingand#160;efforts by ciry officials to discourage theand#160;practice.and#160;In The Global Pigeon, his ethnography ofand#160;human-pigeon encounters, Colin Jerolmackand#160;makes an imaginative and convincing caseand#160;against interpreting any of these activities as 'driven by a singular deep-seated need toand#160;connect to nature', as environmental scholarsand#160;persuaded by the biophilia hypothesis might."
andquot;The Global Pigeon
combines detailed and sustained observation of the kind ordinarily focused on one research site with a global reach and fieldwork done in a variety of places, all over the world. The overall result is an intellectually satisfying book that helps us see complexity where we wouldn't have otherwise, and gives us interesting reading about a world of interaction that goes on around us all the time.andquot;
andquot;The Global Pigeon
effortlessly straddles the literature on urban community and environmental sociology, as well as speaking to debates about identity and identity-formation and the literature about race, ethnicity, and inequality. Its ability to bridge different literatures will, I think, make it extremely widely read and probably widely imitated.andquot;
and#8220;This is the most important book yet written about human and animal interaction. It is full of surprising discoveries. Colin Jerolmack shows why the topic is important: it reveals what it is like to be human.and#8221;
"This book makes veryand#160;enjoyable reading due to its well-balanced combinationand#160;of vivid ethnographic prose and jargon-freeand#160;theoretical interpretation. It is highly recommendedand#160;for lecturers and students in anthropologyand#160;interested in urban ethnography, humanand#8211;animaland#160;relations, and cultures of masculinity."
In their book, Marzluff and Angell illuminate the entwined histories of crows and people and conclude with an intriguing discussion of the crow-human relationship and how our attitudes toward crows may affect our cultural trajectory.
About the Author
Q: How did you come to write this book?A: Seven years ago we set out to write a natural history of the American crow, but a much different book emergedand#151;a natural and cultural history of crows and ravens worldwide. Discovering the joint history of people and crows opened our eyes to the close and continuing relationship evolving between people and elements of the natural world. We hope others can experience our discovery. Crows are elegant without benefit of fancy and colorful plumage; they are animated and physically imposing, the fuel for artistic inspiration.Q: Youand#8217;ve studied crows and ravens extensively. Does it seem that they in turn study you?A: (Marzluff) I particularly remember a raven who carefully approached one of myb traps, stopped short of stepping into it, and reached over to pull the grass camouflage off the trapand#8217;s trigger. He turned to look down the road at me before emphatically throwing the grass into the road and deftly reaching over the trap to grab the bread I used as bait. He didnand#8217;t have to look at me, but he didand#151;like a celebratory football player who just scored!A: (Angell) My raven Macaw employed my and#147;greetingand#8221; each morning as a vocal initiation of each day. After a few months of my saying and#147;Hello, Macaw,and#8221; to him as a young bird, he would say and#147;Hello, Macaw,and#8221; sometimes before I spoke, rather like a and#147;Good morningand#8221; greeting. He always used it in this context during his time with me.Q: What might your readers be most surprised to learn about these birds?A: Our conclusion that crows have culture, and that it affects and is affected byand#160; human culture, makes us realize that we share more than some would like to think with other animals. The tales from people who have witnessed apparent crow murders, funerals, and visitations from dead relatives will certainly shake readers. We hope that by bringing up such controversial crow traits, others will study them and help us all understand the actions of these powerful birds. That crows and their kin possess culture that in some ways parallels our own is a consideration not easily addressed.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Experiencing the City through the Quintessential Urban Bird
Part 1: The Pedestrian Pigeon
1 Feeding the Pigeons: Sidewalk Sociability in Greenwich Village
2 and#8220;Do Not Feed the Pigeonsand#8221;: Cultural Heritage and the Politics of Place in Venice and London
Part 2: The Totemic Pigeon
3 New Yorkand#8217;s Rooftop Pigeon Flyers: Crafting Nature and Anchoring the Self
4 The Turkish Pigeon Caretakers of Berlin: Primordial Ties in a Migrant Community
5 Joeyand#8217;s Brooklyn Pet Shop: Cosmopolitan Ties in a Changing Urban Landscape
Part 3: Deep Play
6 The Bronx Homing Pigeon Club: Nature, Nurture, and the Enchantment of and#8220;the Poor Manand#8217;s Horse Racingand#8221;
7 South Africaand#8217;s Million Dollar Pigeon Race: Rationalizing and Globalizing and#8220;the Pigeon Gameand#8221;
8 Conclusion: Changing Ecologies