The Global Pigeon by Colin Jerolmack

By Colin Jerolmack

The pigeon is the imperative urban chook. Domesticated millions of years in the past as a messenger and a resource of foodstuff, its presence on our sidewalks is so universal that folks think of the chicken a nuisance—if they discover it in any respect. but pigeons also are saved for excitement, recreation, and revenue via humans worldwide, from the “pigeon wars” waged by means of breeding fans within the skies over Brooklyn to the Million greenback Pigeon Race held each year in South Africa.


Drawing on greater than 3 years of fieldwork throughout 3 continents, Colin Jerolmack lines our complicated and infrequently contradictory courting with those flexible animals in public areas reminiscent of Venice’s Piazza San Marco and London’s Trafalgar sq. and in working-class and immigrant groups of pigeon breeders in long island and Berlin. through exploring what he calls “the social event of animals,” Jerolmack exhibits how our interactions with pigeons supply striking insights into urban existence, neighborhood, tradition, and politics. Theoretically understated and available to readers of all stripes, The worldwide Pigeon is the best and most unique ethnographies to be released in decades.


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As a result of sustained attention to the pigeons, humans are rewarded with increasingly complex interactions. In both forms, pigeons—if only for the moment—help satisfy pedestrians’ desire for copresence. Unfocused feeding, in which humans paid little or sporadic attention to the pigeons, often occurred when two or more people were together. On one occasion, a middle-aged black woman and her middle-aged white female companion entered the park with sandwiches and sat down, while a nearby white family of four was feeding about twenty pigeons.

For example, Anna wondered aloud where Nasty was, and she would get more upset when Spots went into her pocket for food than Feeding the Pigeons 35 when Nasty did, because Spots was supposed to be the “good” pigeon. Anna saw something in the pigeons that many, including me, missed. She could tell the pigeons apart so that she knew that the same birds were showing up every day, and she would get upset if some went missing. Yet Anna’s association with the pigeons went further than this. Based on an established routine, a relationship emerged.

It is this “impulse” to associate as an end in itself, and the fact that the pigeon brings something out of the person that enables both of them to accomplish structures of interaction together, that 40 chapter one permits people to experience pigeon feeding as a compelling and fulfilling form of sidewalk sociability. 18 However, while public spaces provide opportunities for spontaneous interactions, these interactions are not always coveted. Indeed, Jacobs observed that many pedestrians seek to balance a desire for copresence with a demand for privacy.

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