The sight of cruelty: The case of circus animal acts

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The paper takes accusations of cruelty to circus animals as a vantage point for the analysis of the circus. It relates the experience of cruelty invoked by animal acts to the spectators' perception of the animals' tamed bodies rather than to any actual offense to animals. It argues that circus animal training is a part of circus textualization of nature, which culminates in de-realization of animal (and human) bodies. Through the self-derealizations, circus conquers an illusionary totality of which it is a part. It dramatizes the ontological crisis of modernity and allows for its illusionary transcendence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalVisual Anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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