Big cats - tigers, leopards and lions - that make prey of humans are commonly known as 'man-eaters'. Anthropologist Nayanika Mathur reconceptualizes them as cats that have gone off the straight path to become 'crooked'.
Building upon fifteen years of research in India, Crooked Cats moves beyond both colonial and conservationist accounts to place crooked cats at the centre of the question of how we are to comprehend a planet in crisis. There are many theories on why and how a big cat comes to prey on humans, with ecological collapse emerging as a central factor. The book explores these in detail to offer new insights into the governance of nonhuman animals and their entanglements with humans.
Weaving together 'beastly tales' spun from encounters with big cats, Mathur deepens our understanding of the causes, consequences and conceptualization of the climate crisis.
'Crooked Cats brings together a tapestry of material on the societal and environmental setting of big cat human encounters in a changing world. Rich in insight yet easily accessible to all, a book not to be missed.' - Dr Mahesh Rangarajan, Ashoka University
'In this captivating book, Mathur offers a sensitive examination of ordinary ethical struggle with cruelties and injustices spawned by human domination of the earth. She writes gripping stories of big cats, mostly from within the villages and towns of Himalayan north India, to bridge the different ways in which the global climate crisis has been imagined, understood, and explained. This is precisely the bridge that must be crossed to reach solutions that are locally meaningful and globally just.' - K. Sivaramakrishnan, Yale University
'At a time when scholarship is highlighting the phenomenon of extinction, Mathur offers an important intervention that redirects attention from this accelerating absence by focusing instead on imaginatively constituted interactions between humans and animals under threat. Introducing many innovative, intriguing, and witty concepts, Crooked Cats is a distinctive contribution to the ongoing and ever-evolving conversation about human-animal conflict and coexistence." - Kath Weston, University of Virginia