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For the Love of Lab Rats: Kinship, Humanimal Relations, and Good Scientific Research ...

Chapter 1:  An Introduction to Polarity, Ambiguity, and Kinship
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For the Love of Lab Rats:

Chapter 1

An Introduction to Polarity, Ambiguity, and Kinship

This book is concerned with exploring rodent-human relationships, particularly in the modern scientific research laboratory. I am particularly interested in the ways in which mice and rats are involved in the expression of opposites and the ways in which they also express vagueness, uncertainty, and the mixing or reconciliation of meanings—or, in other words, the ways in which they are expressive of polarities, ambiguities, and ambivalences. Rats and mice occupy opposing reaches of people’s imaginations in the West. Although they are similar to humans in terms of their sociality, their habits of domestic occupation and food consumption, and in that they serve as homologies for humans’ minds and genes in laboratory settings, they are also feared, demonised, and separated from people as the destroyers of human bodies and of material and technological worlds. Both rats and mice occur simultaneously in Western contexts as house pests and house pets; they are the filthy bearers of diseases that are harmful to people and, when they are located in the