Managing the Borders: Static/Dynamic Nature and the ‘Management’ of ‘Problem’ Species

Zoei Sutton, Nik Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Australia is a culling nation. At the time of writing, for example, a massive ‘5 Year Action Plan’2 is underway that includes the aim of killing 2,000,000 ‘feral’ cats nationwide by 2020 in the name of conservation. Compliance with such undertakings is based, in part, on the idea that the nonhuman animals involved are ‘pests’, ‘dangerous’ to existing native flora and fauna, ideas that are routinely expressed (and occasionally contested) in the media. This paper takes the Australian media to be one of the battle zones of the borderlands where ‘wild’ nonhuman animals and humans potentially meet. Set up by simplistic opposition of good versus bad – ‘Australia’ vs cats, cats vs ‘native species’ – such manoeuvres reinscribe notions of human superiority. However, the matter of ‘managing’ nature is not just a simple ‘us vs them’ situation. Many nonhuman animals (including ‘pet’ cats) move in and out of the category of killable, with the deaths of nonhuman animals who are discursively ‘massified’ (such as ‘pests’ or ‘farmed’ animals) less critically questioned compared to those who are constructed as having ‘meaningful individual differences’.3 This indicates that particular framings render nonhuman species as either worthy of moral consideration, however limited, and therefore, individual, grievable and non-killable, or unworthy of moral consideration and therefore non-grievable and killable...
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-394
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • introduced species
  • Culling
  • ethical practice


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