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Species Matters

Species Matters: Humane Advocacy and Cultural Theory

Marianne DeKoven
Michael Lundblad
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Species Matters
    Book Description:

    Why has the academy struggled to link advocacy for animals to advocacy for various human groups? Within cultural studies, in which advocacy can take the form of a theoretical intervention, scholars have resisted arguments that add "species" to race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and other human-identity categories as a site for critical analysis.

    Species Matters considers whether cultural studies should pay more attention to animal advocacy and whether, in turn, animal studies should pay more attention to questions raised by cultural theory. The contributors to this volume explore these issues particularly in relation to the "humane" treatment of animals and various human groups and the implications, both theoretical and practical, of blurring the distinction between "the human" and "the animal." They address important questions raised by the history of representing humans as the only animal capable of acting humanely and provide a framework for reconsidering the nature of humane discourse, whether in theory, literary and cultural texts, or current advocacy movements outside of the academy.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52683-8
    Subjects: Zoology, Philosophy, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION Animality and Advocacy
    (pp. 1-16)
    Michael Lundblad and Marianne DeKoven

    Why do species matter? What matters need to be discussed in relation to species among scholars in the humanities and social sciences? The “question of the animal” has occupied an increasing number of these scholars in recent years, with significant work being done in a wide range of fields, from literary and cultural studies to philosophy, history, religious studies, art history, cultural geography, sociology, anthropology, and media studies.¹ Despite all the important work that has already been done, a key question has yet to be fully explored: why has there been resistance in the academy to linking advocacy for animals...

  5. 1 Species Matters, Humane Advocacy: In the Promising Grip of Earthly Oxymorons
    (pp. 17-26)
    Donna Haraway

    Oxymorons give me sustenance as well as indigestion; they contain their own frictions, contradictions, and tensions in order to trip us into paying attention to what matters. Oxymorons are sharply foolish, and they are mortally vital. All of the title words of the collective book in your hands are oxymorons; no wonder these figures land us in consequential struggles for, with, and among terran critters, including each other who are the authors and readers inside the covers of this volume. Without friction, there is no heat; without heat, there is no mortal living; without mortal living, there is no hope...

  6. 2 Humane Advocacy and the Humanities: The Very Idea
    (pp. 27-48)
    Cary Wolfe

    The question of humane advocacy is a complex one, not least of all because advocacy is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. That is to say, advocacy always takes place within a highly contingent, situated, and densely configured context, one that involves different constituencies, institutions, audiences, strategic considerations, and rhetorical necessities. For the would-be advocate (in this or any other cause), ignoring this is not just intellectually hasty; it is also pragmatically unwise. To put it another way, though the ideals and ethical imperatives to which advocacy aspires may seem (in this and other cases) lofty and, as it were, “above” the...

  7. 3 Consequences of Humanism, or, Advocating What?
    (pp. 49-74)
    Paola Cavalieri

    Everyone involved in progressive political activism acknowledges the importance of groups building alliances, and most social movements seek to devise and develop political connections that might increase the possibilities of accomplishing their political goals.

    Alliances, however, are a type of cooperative behavior, and cooperation theories tell us that collective action is not always easy to achieve. Agreement on common goals and strategies can be hindered by many elements, such as a lack of shared values or an unequal distribution of costs or responsibilities. But in the case of the possible relationship between human and nonhuman advocacy, the problems may cut...

  8. 4 Archaeology of a Humane Society: Animality, Savagery, Blackness
    (pp. 75-102)
    Michael Lundblad

    In his conclusion to The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), Charles Darwin addresses the idea of descending from “savages.” Darwin first acknowledges that his “main conclusion”—“that man is descended from some lowly organized form”—might be “highly distasteful to many.”¹ But he argues that all humans, including “savages,” as well as nonhuman animals, have descended from a common “lowly origin” that predates the evolution of humanity.² According to Darwin, the “rank of manhood” was “attained” before humans “diverged into distinct races, or as they may be more fitly called, subspecies.”³ But he also suggests...

  9. 5 What Came Before The Sexual Politics of Meat: The Activist Roots of a Critical Theory
    (pp. 103-138)
    Carol J. Adams

    In 1974, walking down a Cambridge, Massachusetts, street, I suddenly realized that a deep and abiding connection existed between feminism and vegetarianism, between violence against women and violence against animals. I wrote my first paper on the subject in 1975. In 1976, I began writing a book about the patriarchal roots of meat eating. Within months, I was all set to see my small manuscript published. But it felt incomplete to me, lacking in a critical theory that organized and interpreted my ideas. I realized neither the “book” nor I was ready for its publication. I shelved the early draft.

    I returned to western...

  10. 6 Compassion: Human and Animal
    (pp. 139-172)
    Martha C. Nussbaum

    Human compassion is diseased. I do not speak primarily of its all-too-familiar failures of extent, the way we work up tremendous sympathy for thirteen people dead in Minnesota but have no emotional response to hundreds of thousands of people dead in Darfur. Those failures are common ground between humans and other animals,¹ and we may plausibly see a tendency to focus on the near at hand as part of our animal heritage, tenacious and difficult to overcome. No, I am speaking about failures of compassion that we would not expect to find in any other animal, cases of the most close-up and horrible human suffering that evoke, from its...

  11. 7 Down with Dualism! Two Millennia of Debate About Human Goodness
    (pp. 173-189)
    Frans de Waal

    Edward Westermarck’s writings, including those about his journeys to Morocco, kept me busy as I leaned back in a cushy seat on a jet from Tokyo to Helsinki. More comfortable than a camel, I bet! I was on my way to an international conference in honor of the Swedish-Finn, who lived from 1862 until 1939 and who was the first to bring Darwinism to the social sciences.

    His books are a curious blend of dry theorizing, detailed anthropology, and secondhand animal stories. He gives the example of a vengeful camel that had been excessively beaten on multiple occasions by a...

  12. Addendum to Down with Dualism! Two Millennia of Debate About Human Goodness (2010)
    (pp. 190-194)
    Frans de Waal

    Since I first wrote about animal empathy and the continuities with human morality, which was in my book Good Natured(1996), the topic has been enriched from many sides by neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers speculating about the evolution of the moral sense. Note, for example, the excellent contribution by Jonathan Haidt (2001), who explains the intuitive ways in which humans tackle moral dilemmas. Others have continued to explore how animal behavior throws light on this issue. These endeavors were greatly assisted by a study by my team on the sensitivity of monkeys to unequal pay (Brosnan and de Waal 2003), which has been interpreted as reflecting a sense of fairness.


  13. 8 Avoid Being Abstract When Making Policies on the Welfare of Animals
    (pp. 195-218)
    Temple Grandin

    In this chapter, I am going to discuss two main issues from the viewpoint of a person who has worked for thirty-five years finding practical ways to improve the treatment of cattle and pigs. I have worked to design better equipment and to teach people behavioral principles for moving and handling livestock.¹ The first issue is the importance of staying in touch with what is actually happening on the ground, in farms and in slaughter plants. This is important for implementing effective reforms. The second half of the chapter will discuss the use of animals for food. Before I delve...

    (pp. 219-220)
  15. Index
    (pp. 221-230)