“Un-Cooped: Deconstructing the Domesticated Chicken.” explores the origins of and the cultural attitudes towards one of the most common—yet most often overlooked—of all domesticated animals: the chicken.
Homo sapiens and Gallus gallus domesticus share a long and complex history, from the jungles of Southeast Asia to the cockfighting pits of ancient Rome, from the Victorian show ring to the modern day factory farm. Human attitudes toward chickens are likewise vast, ranging from creation myths that revere chickens and the egg in the formulation of the world, to dismissals of chickens as dull and foolish.
Today, chickens have mostly disappeared from public view inside the long, windowless sheds of the factory farm, and the word “chicken” no longer invokes an animal, but rather a piece of meat. Popular perceptions of chickens are shaped from an early age by storybooks, cartoons, and toys; and are advanced later in life, by advertisements, the media, familial traditions, and fast food culture among others. The story of chickens has been overwhelmingly one-sided, and they are typically seen as a means to an end, rather than as individuals with a wide range of cognitive abilities and a rich family structure.
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