Citation

Dog Parking

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Abstract:

In the past few years, cities around the United States have increasingly established dog parks or runs within municipal borders. These cities' investment in providing substantial pieces of fenced-in land for off-leash dog exercise suggests the presence of a public dog culture growing at the same time as private businesses are offering more options for doggy day cares, vacation kennels, and other luxury services. In addition, the opening of dog parks can also be seen as a response to the adoption and enforcement of leash laws in these cities where just a couple of decades ago, dogs were more likely to be seen playing in neighborhoods off leash.

This project examines the news media and city government discourses about costs and benefits of establishing dog parks. I turn to newspaper coverage as well as minutes from city council meetings. These conversations revolve around issues of community, public safety, noise pollution, environmental waste, and neighborhood privacy as well as reasons for why dogs need plenty of space for exercise and obedience training. In addition to marking out divisions between dog owners and non-owners, these discussions create differing conceptions of what appropriate public space is -- who owns it, what rules apply to that space, and where it should be located. By turning to this discourse, I examine how debates over city land use offer one way to understand the importance of dogs in the creation of public social spaces. Centering dogs sets slightly askew rubrics for appropriate city zoning based on human needs or even environmental preservation issues. Additionally, these debates reveal how dog owners shape the general public's perceptions of appropriate co-existence with dogs.

This project draws on contemporary critical thought on dogs as companion species (Donna Haraway), as figures of radical alterity, as literary metaphors for cultural critique (Sacvan Bercovitch via Kafka), and as melancholic love objects (Alice Kuzniar). These thinkers have turned to the relationship humans have with dogs as one through which we can re-examine assumptions about social life, ethics, and politics. By focusing on the site of dog parks, I link these philosophical and literary examinations to discussions of community building and urban environments via discussions of publics and counterpublics (Michael Warner) and built environments (Yi-Fu Tuan).
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Association:
Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.theasa.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p243426_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Lai, Paul. "Dog Parking" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Albuquerque, New Mexico, <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p243426_index.html>

APA Citation:

Lai, P. "Dog Parking" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Albuquerque, New Mexico <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p243426_index.html

Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: In the past few years, cities around the United States have increasingly established dog parks or runs within municipal borders. These cities' investment in providing substantial pieces of fenced-in land for off-leash dog exercise suggests the presence of a public dog culture growing at the same time as private businesses are offering more options for doggy day cares, vacation kennels, and other luxury services. In addition, the opening of dog parks can also be seen as a response to the adoption and enforcement of leash laws in these cities where just a couple of decades ago, dogs were more likely to be seen playing in neighborhoods off leash.

This project examines the news media and city government discourses about costs and benefits of establishing dog parks. I turn to newspaper coverage as well as minutes from city council meetings. These conversations revolve around issues of community, public safety, noise pollution, environmental waste, and neighborhood privacy as well as reasons for why dogs need plenty of space for exercise and obedience training. In addition to marking out divisions between dog owners and non-owners, these discussions create differing conceptions of what appropriate public space is -- who owns it, what rules apply to that space, and where it should be located. By turning to this discourse, I examine how debates over city land use offer one way to understand the importance of dogs in the creation of public social spaces. Centering dogs sets slightly askew rubrics for appropriate city zoning based on human needs or even environmental preservation issues. Additionally, these debates reveal how dog owners shape the general public's perceptions of appropriate co-existence with dogs.

This project draws on contemporary critical thought on dogs as companion species (Donna Haraway), as figures of radical alterity, as literary metaphors for cultural critique (Sacvan Bercovitch via Kafka), and as melancholic love objects (Alice Kuzniar). These thinkers have turned to the relationship humans have with dogs as one through which we can re-examine assumptions about social life, ethics, and politics. By focusing on the site of dog parks, I link these philosophical and literary examinations to discussions of community building and urban environments via discussions of publics and counterpublics (Michael Warner) and built environments (Yi-Fu Tuan).


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