This article explores the feelings English people had about, and with, pigeons in early modern England and America. In so doing, the paper uses the concept of an emotional ecology, an understanding of emotion that is situated in a web of relations with other creatures and things. To do this, the paper outlines the context of everyday interactions with pigeons in England and uses these contexts to outline how rural tenants felt about the pigeons in their midst. Hungry, fecund, and gregarious, pigeons cut a divisive figure in the English landscape. Legal sanction and customary practice marked them as privileged while a wide range of other potential agricultural pests were enthusiastically suppressed. We then look at how settler colonists experienced an abundance of American pigeons, particularly the passenger pigeon which would be hunted to extinction in the nineteenth century. Together, this story provides an example of how environments, culture and emotions are mutually, if not equally, constitutive of one another.
- Centre for Environmental Humanities
- passenger pigeons
- early modern England
- colonial America