“A canary is supposed to sit in a cage and look at someone else's happiness”: Domestic rewilding in fin-de-siècle St Petersburg
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Petri, O. (2022). “A canary is supposed to sit in a cage and look at someone else's happiness”: Domestic rewilding in fin-de-siècle St Petersburg. Area https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12813
Abstract: In this paper, I suggest a new way of looking at the aesthetically motivated invitation of the putative wild into the inner sanctum of human artifice, the domestic sphere. I use the urban historical geography of Russia as my example. Rather than interpreting such interventions as simply the transplantation of the wild in time and space, the biological recovery of an often imaginary rural past, I argue that the paradoxes of what I call “domestic rewilding” deserve particular attention, as they reveal the aesthetic and political preoccupations motivating such projects. I put a special stress on the gendered cultural politics of canary‐keeping in fin‐de‐siècle St Petersburg, which saw a craze for canaries in the homes of all classes. In many cases, it was women who bought, trained, and traded these birds in order to beautify – via an ecological imaginary– the cultural spaces that had been created with the objective of keeping the non‐urban wild at bay. By installing these acoustic artefacts in the heart of the home, these women obtained a covert licence to go out on a figurative limb. The human/non‐human symbiosis of canary domestication provided a cover for women's incursions into traditionally male public formats of organised societies and scientific publications. The paradoxes of domestic rewilding thus subversively re‐constituted the gendered spaces of St Petersburg's urban modernity.
SPECIAL SECTION, domestic rewilding, gender politics, St Petersburg, the Ovsîanka canary, urban rewilding, winged geographies
Leverhulme Trust (ECF‐2017‐017)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12813
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/338649