The public lives of pigeon passengers: How pigeons and humans share space on a train

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

As so-called ‘rats with wings’, pigeons are a favourite target of cultural theorists interested in interspecies relationship and conflict: pigeon spikes, anti-feeding campaigns, and attempts at extermination are taken as evidence of humans’ intolerance for ‘wild’ and ‘disorderly’ nature enacted through spatial exclusion. This chapter challenges this prevalent account by examining video data of actual encounters between pigeons and humans on commuter trains, exploring the situated and negotiated techniques they use to share space. Through an ethnomethodological analysis of interaction as everyday ‘sociological reasoning’, it shows that such encounters are important sites of public reasoning where both pigeons and humans negotiate how to manage life in and travel through a multispecies city. The analysis contributes to recent critiques of ‘ontologies of entanglement’ by demonstrating the importance of a contextual, praxeological perspective for recognising the ways pigeons learn to live in a human world—and humans learn to live in a world of birds.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWinged Worlds
Subtitle of host publicationCommon Spaces of Avian-Human Lives
EditorsOlga Petri, Michael Guida
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781003334767
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2023


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