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Mazzucchelli, F. (2018). The Birth of a Pet? The Rabbit. In Semiotics of Animals in Culture (pp. 103-118). Springer, Cham.

In Western cultures, the rabbit holds a double status: it is, at once, livestock and pet. Furthermore, manifold connotations (rabbit can also be hunting quarry, vermin, test animal, etc.) and a rich and long-lasting iconography (it is an iconic animal with a meaningful symbolic presence in many cultures) make this animal a powerful metonymy of the dynamics of the human-animal relation, grounded in incessant renegotiations.

Looking specifically at the Italian cultural context, this chapter aims at exploring the diverse processes of semiotization of the rabbit, and the different (sometimes incompatible) visions of nature lying behind, which may at times take the form of a (only apparently minor) “war of the worlds” (Latour) in which different ontologies come into conflict.

Through a quick analysis of different texts, objects, practices and discourses, I shall underline how various “modes of existence” of this animal confirm the hypothesis of Descola, according to whom different “regimes” of nature (and hence “animality”) can coexist (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) in the same society.

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