How are humans animals? The presentation of the human as a subject of biology textbooks

Daisy Hildyard

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This article examines the presentation of humans as a subject of ecological and behavioral study in academic biology textbooks and essay collections. It aims to expand a channel of inquiry into the ways in which human relationships with other species are articulated in scientific discourse during an era of anthropogenic climate change (the Anthropocene). Both humans and nonhumans are subjects of behavioral ecology because they undergo evolutionary adaptation. However, the notion that biologists can use evolutionary adaptation to explain human behavior has been much disputed. The article uses literary analysis to argue that a range of behavioral ecology publications, which all use evolutionary adaptation to explain biological processes, employ a variety of textual strategies to situate the human in relation to other species. Rather than arguing that any single approach is particularly appropriate, the focus is on variety as a sign of the complexity of contemporary human and nonhuman identities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441–459
JournalSociety and Animals
Issue number5-6
Early online date22 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


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