“Savage Practices": Geography and Human-Animal Relationships in J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace

Lindsay Ann Diehl, University of British Columbia, Canada


This paper uses the interplay between geography and human-animal relationships as a lens through which to challenge critical readings of J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace that suggest that the protagonist, David Lurie, transforms into a more sympathetic character by the end of the novel. It argues that such readings can overlook some forms of discriminatory violence, which Lurie perpetuates towards racialized characters, such as his daughter’s African neighbour Petrus, and animals, such as his favourite dog Driepoot at the animal shelter. Thus, this paper explores what Elder, Wolch, and Emel identify as the “dual challenge” in creating a more inclusive—non-racist and non-speciesist—ethic of responsibility and care (87). It aims to gesture to the possibility of a radically inclusive politics, one that more adequately begins to address the wide array of interests and positionalities currently defining the lives of peoples and animals in the postcolonial world.


Coetzee; Disgrace; Human-Animal Relationships; Racialization; Animalization; Discriminatory Violence; Reconciliation

Full Text: