Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Critical Animal Studies in 2014

Welcome to 2014. We have yet again an exciting year of cutting edge books on animal advocacy and theory.

Outlined below is the third annual Animal Reading List. This follows 2012's exciting lineup of books challenging conventional approaches to animal ethics and advocacy and 2013's posthuman bonanza. The Animal Reading List of 2014 is organized into four categories: Critical Animal Theory, Human-Animal-Machine, Ecology, Geography, Effective Advocacy for Animals, and Coffee Table books.

Critical Theory
With the release of two anthologies defining the field, 2014 is a significant year for critical animal studies. In Defining Animal Studies, new and veteran contributors to the field elaborate on the ten principles of critical animal studies from deconstructing the human-animal binary to bridging academics and advocacy to building multi-movement coalitions for total liberation. The Rise of Critical Animal Studies alternatively focuses on the theoretical grounding, challenging methodologies, and effective application of critical animal studies. Finally, Ecofeminism returns attention to two distinguishing themes of ecofeminist theory -- affect and context -- exploring the interspecies phenomenon of joy and grief as well as animal advocactes' complicity with white, class, and gender privilege.

Several books listed present ontological questions regarding the callous implosion human, animal, and technological natures. In The Silence of Animals, John Gray challenges human exceptionalism and progress, prescribing a Buddhist-like appreciation of our animality including a disciplined suspension to let the world be. Animals and War presents the bloody consequences of human aspirations to compete against others to order the world according to their wills and self interests: exploiting animals as vehicles in war, as test subjects of weapons and medics, as ecological casualties, and as combatants and weapons themselves. Emily Anthes studies the latest violation of body integrity in Frankenstein's Cat, exposing the science fiction realities of remote controlled animals for surveillance, bioenginered pets for profit, and more.

Geography and Ecology
Animal others are, of course, more than the object of ethics and theory as well as the anithesis and prey of technology. Animal others are inhabitants of cherished and forsaken places. Julie Urbanik in Placing Animals draws the most comprehensive map of the spatial arrangements and meanings humans share with animals from the farm, to the woods to the lab, including an introduction to the sub-field of animal geography. Trash Animals is dedicated to the egregiously misunderstood realities of "mis-placed" species, animals who receive little advocacy yet reap a large proportion of violence for being "filthy," "invasive," and "worthless."

Ronald Sandler gives to us a much overdue in-depth discussion of the value of species in his The Ethics of Species, treading controversies over restoration, assisted colonizations, hybrid animals, engineered species, and human "enhancement." Centering Animals in Latin American History is the first of its kind to delve into contested intra and interspecies power relations in Latin America, teetering between posthuman recognition of animals as historical agents and postcolonial critique of market and state domination through animal protection. Last but not least, Andrew Lindzey's Global Guide to Animal Protection collects synopses of nearly two hundred animal rights causes including amphibian conservation, sanctuary work, habitat restoration, living with predators, sabotaging hunts, combating poachers, managing feral cat populations, and animal law.

Effective Words and Images
Animal activists have another collection of books this year that may very well improve their advocacy. In the first, Russ Mead lays out laws and policies in Nonprofit Animal Law spanning across risk management, fundraising, employment and volunteering, animal disaster response, nonprofit structure, tax exemption, animal cruelty, intellectual property, animal transport, public events, privacy laws and more. Arguments about Animal Ethics is another over-due book from the field of communications containing fascinating essays inclusive of interspecies communication, inner dialogue, analysis of sexualized and racialized rhetorical strategies in advocacy,  and critique of the biomedical backlash of said advocacy. Finally, there are the statistics-heavy entries, one on the externalized economic costs of animal flesh production by David Simon in Meatonomics and the other on the efficacy, demographics, myths, and cognitive processes of vegans and omnivores in Nick Cooney's Veganomics.

After the release of We Animals, a book by Jo-Anne McArthur, star of Ghost in the Machine, I've decided to include a new category for less academic and verbose texts, specifically one dedicated to the power of visual art. McArthur's We Animals, Sue Coe's Cruel, and Daniel Imhoff's CAFO are certainly more than coffee books, but they have a heightened accessibility because of their provocative images. Accompanied by anecdotes and essays, all three books provide an opportunity for a reader to witness the popularly unperceptive marginalization and violence against animals.

If you are interested in reviewing a book or film for this blog or in the Journal for Critical Animal Studies, please send me an email.


Defining Critical Animal Studies (Anthony Nocella et al 2014) 
This is the first book to define the philosophical and practical parameters of critical animal studies (CAS). Rooted in anarchist perspectives that oppose all systems of domination and authoritarianism, CAS both challenges anthropocentrism and presents animal liberation as a social justice movement that intersects with other movements for positive change. Written by a collection of internationally respected scholar-activists, each chapter expands upon the theory and practice underlying the total liberation approach, the roles of academics and activists, and the ten principles of CAS.

The Rise of Critical Animal Studies: From the Margin to the Centre (Nik Tyler, Richard Twine 2014) 
[T]his volume explores the inner tensions within the broad field of animal studies and provides a platform for the latest critical thinking on the condition and experience of animals. Structured around four sections – engaged theory, doing critical animal studies, capitalism and critical animal studies, and activism – The Rise of Critical Animal Studies demonstrates the contribution of critical animal studies to important contemporary debates and constructs a future direction for the field of animal studies in spite of its various differences and conflicts.

Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth (Carol Adams, Lori Gruen 2014) 
Ecofeminism addresses the various ways that sexism, heteronormativity, racism, colonialism, and ableism are informed by and support speciesism. Ecofeminists stress the need to attend to context over universal judgments and argue for the importance of care as well as justice, emotion as well as reason, in working to undo the logic of domination and its material implications... Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth begins with a historical, grounding section that situates ecofeminist theory and activism and provides a timeline for important publications and events.

The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths (John Gray 2013) 
John Gray’s “Silence of Animals” is an attack on humanism. He condemns this widely accepted secular faith as a form of delusional self-flattery... The book consists of three parts. The first deals mainly with the supposed myth of human progress, the second with the disposition of humans to mythologize themselves and the world through fictions; the third proposes an alternative of pure contemplation that just lets the world be. That is the meaning of the title: we are invited to become more like other animals, freed of the perpetual need for commentary, understanding and transcendence.[*]

Animals and War: Confronting the Military-Animal Industrial Complex (Nocella, Salter, & Bentley 2013) 
[T]he first book to examine how nonhuman animals are used for war by military forces. Each chapter delves deeply into modes of nonhuman animal exploitation: as weapons, test subjects, and transportation, and as casualties of war leading to homelessness, starvation, and death. Just when you thought you knew everything about war and the military, this book takes readers further into the machinery of the military industrial complex... an important text in the fields of peace studies and critical animal studies.

Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts (Emily Anthes 2013) 
In Frankenstein’s Cat, the journalist Emily Anthes... explores how biotechnology is shaping the future of our furry and feathered friends. As she ventures from bucolic barnyards to a “frozen zoo” where scientists are storing DNA from the planet’s most exotic creatures, she discovers how we can use cloning to protect endangered species, craft prosthetics to save injured animals, and employ genetic engineering to supply farms with disease-resistant livestock... So what does biotechnology really mean for the world’s wild things? And what do our brave new beasts tell us about ourselves?... Anthes highlights both the peril and the promise of our scientific superpowers, taking us on an adventure into a world where our grandest science fiction fantasies are fast becoming reality.

The Ethics of Species: An Introduction (Ronald Sandler 2012) 
We are causing species to go extinct at extraordinary rates, altering existing species in unprecedented ways, and creating entirely new species. More than ever before, we require an ethic of species to guide our interactions with them. In this book, Ronald L. Sandler examines the value of species and the ethical significance of species boundaries, and discusses what these mean for species preservation in the light of global climate change, species engineering and human enhancement. He argues that species possess several varieties of value, but they are not sacred...

Trash Animals: How We Live with Nature's Filthy, Feral, Invasive, and Unwanted Species (Kelsi Nagi, Philp David Johnson II 2013) 
In Trash Animals, a diverse group of environmental writers explores the natural history of wildlife species deemed filthy, unwanted, invasive, or worthless, highlighting the vexed relationship humans have with such creatures. Each essay focuses on a so-called trash species—gulls, coyotes, carp, cockroaches, magpies, prairie dogs, and lubber grasshoppers, among others—examining the biology and behavior of each in contrast to the assumptions widely held about them... [T]he contributors challenge us to look closely at these animals, to reimagine our ethics of engagement with such wildlife, and to question the violence...

Placing Animals: An Introduction to the Geography of Human-Animal Relations (Julie Urbanik 2012) 
Placing Animals is the first book to bring together the historical development of the field of animal geography with a comprehensive survey of how geographers study animals today... Through the theme of the role of place in shaping where and why human-animal interactions occur, the chapters in turn explore the history of animal geography and our distinctive relationships in the home, on farms, in the context of labor, in the wider culture, and in the wild.

Centering Animals in Latin American History (Martha Few, Zeb Tortorici 2013) 
Centering Animals in Latin American History writes animals back into the history of colonial and postcolonial Latin America. This collection reveals how interactions between humans and other animals have significantly shaped narratives of Latin American histories and cultures... seeking to include nonhuman animals as social actors... The essays discuss topics ranging from canine baptisms, weddings, and funerals in Bourbon Mexico to imported monkeys used in medical experimentation in Puerto Rico... the role of animals in colonization efforts... the relationship between animals, medicine, and health... the politics of hunting, the commodification of animals and animal parts, the protection of animals and the environment, and political symbolism.

The Global Guide to Animal Protection: An Interdisciplinary compendium of worldwide animal rights issues (Andrew Lindzey 2014) 
Raising awareness of human indifference and cruelty toward animals, The Global Guide to Animal Protection includes more than 180 introductory articles that survey the extent of worldwide human exploitation of animals from a variety of perspectives. In addition to entries on often disturbing examples of human cruelty toward animals, the book provides inspiring accounts of attempts by courageous individuals--including Jane Goodall, Shirley McGreal, Biruté Mary Galdikas, Bernard E. Rollin, and Roger Fouts--to challenge and change exploitative practices.

Nonprofit Animal Law (Russ Mead 2014) 
An animal law text book and guide for lawyers who volunteer for and represent animal-related nonprofit organizations. Over 100 legal topics affecting animal shelters, animal rescues, animal sanctuaries, animal welfare groups, and animal rights groups. Animal rights and Nonprofit lawyer Russ Mead explores contemporary legal issues facing the nonprofit animal community. In representing animal-related nonprofits.

Arguments About Animal Ethics (Greg Goodale, Jason Edward Black 2010) 
Arguments about Animal Ethics delves into the rhetorical and discursive practices of participants in controversies over the use of nonhuman animals for meat, entertainment, fur, and vivisection. Both sides of the debate are carefully analyzed, as the contributors examine how stakeholders persuade or fail to persuade audiences about the ethics of animal rights or the value of using animals. The essays in this volume cover a wide range of topics, such as the campaigns waged by [PETA]... and the failure of the animal rights movement to protest research into genetically modifying living beings.

Meatonomics: How the Rigged Economics of Meat and Dairy Make You Consume Too Much (David Robinson Simon 2013) 
Few consumers are aware of the economic forces behind the production of meat, fish, eggs, and dairy... [W]e've lost the ability to decide for ourselves what - and how much - to eat. Those decisions are made for us by animal food producers who control our buying choices with artificially-low prices, misleading messaging, and heavy control over legislation and regulation... Meatonomics is the first book to add up the huge "externalized" costs that the animal food system imposes on taxpayers, animals and the environment... for every $1 of product they sell, meat and dairy producers impose almost $2 in hidden costs on the rest of us.

Veganomics (Nick Cooney 2014) 
Vegetarians differ from omnivores not just in their eating habits but also in their psychology, personalities, friendship choices, even their sex lives. Extensive studies from around the world show that they vote differently, take different jobs, and have brains that fire differently. This research also provides insight into why people who consider themselves vegetarian may not really be vegetarian at all, and why so many fall off the vegetarian wagon.

We Animals (Jo-Anne McArthur 2013) 
Drawn from many photos taken over 15 years, We Animals illustrates and investigates animals in the human environment: whether they're being used for food, fashion and entertainment, or research, or are being rescued to spend their remaining years in sanctuaries. Award-winning photojournalist and animal advocate Jo-Anne McArthur provides a valuable lesson about our treatment of animals, makes animal industries visible and accountable, and widens our circle of compassion to include all sentient beings.

CAFO Reader (Daniel Imhoff 2010) 
CAFO provides an unprecedented view of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations... As the photos and essays in this powerful book demonstrate, the rise of the CAFO industry has become one of the most pressing issues of our time. Industrial livestock production is now a leading source of climate changing emissions, a source of water pollution, and a significant contributor to diet-related diseases, and the spread of food-borne illnesses. The intensive concentrations of animals in such crammed and filthy conditions dependent on antibiotic medicines and steady streams of subsidized industrial feeds poses serious... ethical considerations

Cruel: Bearing Witness to Animal Exploitation (Sue Coe 2012) 
Longtime activist illustrator Sue Coe, a pioneer defender of animal rights, has produced a striking new work that furthers her career-long exposé of the exploitation of animals raised and slaughtered for human consumption. Richly illustrated with full-color paintings and drawings throughout, Cruel conveys the terrible beauty, and intense suffering, of both the animals so sacrificed and the workers involved in their violent destruction... [I]n Cruel Coe also sets her sights on lesser-known, yet equally shocking, methods involved in commercial fishing, the wool industry, the flagrant use of pesticides, and livestock "protection" collars.

The Exultant Arc: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure (Jonathon Balcome 2011) 
Nature documentaries often depict animal life as a grim struggle for survival, but this visually stunning book opens our eyes to a different, more scientifically up-to-date way of looking at the animal kingdom. In more than one hundred thirty striking images, The Exultant Ark celebrates the full range of animal experience with dramatic portraits of animal pleasure ranging from the charismatic and familiar to the obscure and bizarre... In the end, old attitudes fall away as we gain a heightened sense of animal individuality and of the pleasures that make life worth living for all sentient beings.

... UPDATE: more
Critical Animal Studies (John Sorensen, 2014) 
Critical Animal Studies examines our exploitation and commodification of non-human animals. By inquiring into the contradictions that have shaped our understanding of animals, the contributors of this collection have set out to question the systemic oppression inherent in our treatment of animals. The collection closes with a thoughtful consideration of some of the complexities of activism, as well as a discussion of how to further the progress of animal rights.

Interspecies Ethics (Cynthia Willet, 2014) 
Interspecies Ethics explores animals’ vast capacity for agency, justice, solidarity, humor, and communication across species. The social bonds diverse animals form provide a remarkable model for communitarian justice and cosmopolitan peace, challenging the human exceptionalism that drives modern moral theory... Interspecies Ethics develops a communitarian model for multispecies ethics.. The book’s ethical vision offers an alternative to utilitarian, deontological, and virtue ethics... illuminat[ing] a variety of theories and contrasting approaches, tracing the contours of a postmoral ethics.

Beasts: What Animals Can Teach Us about the Origins of Good and Evil (Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, 2014) 
Masson has showed that animals can teach us much about our own emotions—love (dogs), contentment (cats), grief (elephants), among others. But animals have much to teach us about negative emotions such as anger and aggression as well, and in unexpected ways... We link the basest human behavior to animals, to “beasts”... and claim the high ground for our species. We are least human, we think, when we succumb to our primitive, animal ancestry. Nothing could be further from the truth... Our burden is that humans, and in particular humans in our modern industrialized world, are the most violent animals to our own kind in existence, or possibly ever in existence on earth

The Ethics of Animal Re-creation and Modification: Reviving, Rewilding, Restoring (Marku Oksanan and Helena Siipi, 2014) 
The Ethics of Animal Recreation and Modification studies philosophical and ethical issues arising from new technological possibilities to repair the loss of animal diversity. Several research groups are currently working toward re-creating extinct animals such as the woolly mammoth by the methods of modern genomic technology and of selective breeding. These projects challenge the main underlying tenet of conservation ethics: the extinction of a species is irreversible. For this reason alone, the idea of de-extinction, or reversing extinction, is troublesome. 

In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America (Maureen Ogle, 2013) 
The moment European settlers arrived in North America, they began transforming the land into a meat-eater’s paradise. Long before revolution turned colonies into nation, Americans were eating meat on a scale the Old World could neither imagine nor provide... Maureen Ogle guides us from that colonial paradise to the urban meat-making factories of the nineteenth century to the hyperefficient packing plants of the late twentieth century...Americans’ carnivorous demands shaped urban landscapes, midwestern prairies, and western ranges, and how the American system of meat making became a source of both pride and controversy. 

Framing Farming: Communication Strategies for Animal Rights (Carrie Freeman, 2014) 
Professor Freeman examines the animal rights movement’s struggles over whether to construct farmed animal campaign messages based more on utility (emphasizing animal welfare, anti-cruelty farming reforms, dietary reduction of animal foods, and human self-interest like health) or based more on ideology (emphasizing animal rights and abolition of farming and eating fellow animals). Freeman prioritizes the latter, “ideological authenticity,” to promote a needed transformation in worldviews and human-animal identity, not just behaviors. This would mean framing “Go Veg” messages not only around compassion, but also around principles of ecology, liberty, and justice

Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves (Laurel Braitman, 2014) 
For the first time, a historian of science draws evidence from across the world to show how humans and other animals are astonishingly similar when it comes to their feelings and the ways in which they lose their minds. Thankfully, all of us can heal... How do these animals recover? The same way we do: with love, with medicine, and above all, with the knowledge that someone understands why we suffer and what can make us feel better.

Circles of Compassion: Connecting Issues of Justice (Will Tuttle, 2014) 
This book consists of a series of essays by internationally recognized authors and activists...focusing on how the seemingly disparate issues of human, animal, and environmental rights are indeed connected. Authors also provide practical guidance about how to make the individual, systems, and social changes necessary to effectively create a peaceful and just world for all.

Critical Animal Geographies (Katie Gillespie, Rosemary-Claire Collard 2015) 
Critical Animal Geographies provides new geographical perspectives on critical animal studies, exploring the spatial, political and ethical dimensions of animals’ lived experience and human-animal encounter.... Chapters draw together feminist, political-economic, post-humanist, anarchist, post-colonial, and critical race literatures... In doing so, the book pushes readers to confront how human-animal relations are mixed up with overlapping axes of power and exploitation, including gender, race, class, and species.

Race, Species, and Nature in a Multicultural Age (Claire Jean Kim, 2014) 
Dangerous Crossings offers an interpretation of the impassioned disputes that have arisen in the contemporary United States over the use of animals in the cultural practices of nonwhite peoples. It examines three controversies: the battle over the “cruelty” of the live animal markets in San Francisco's Chinatown, the uproar over the conviction of NFL superstar Michael Vick on dogfighting charges, and the firestorm over the Makah tribe's decision to resume whaling in the Pacific Northwest after a hiatus of more than seventy years. Claire Jean Kim shows that each dispute demonstrates how race and species operate as conjoined logics, or mutually constitutive taxonomies of power, to create the animal, the Chinese immigrant, the black man, and the “Indian” in the white imagination.

The Philosopher's Plant: An Intellectual Herbarium (Michael Marder, 2014) 
Choosing twelve botanical specimens that correspond to twelve significant philosophers, [Michael Marder] recasts the development of philosophy through the evolution of human and plant relations. A philosophical history for the postmetaphysical age, The Philosopher’s Plant reclaims the organic heritage of human thought. With the help of vegetal images, examples, and metaphors, the book clears a path through philosophy’s tangled roots and dense undergrowth.

Zoogenesis: Thinking Encounters with Animals (Richard Iveson, 2014) 
Zoogenesis: Thinking Encounter with Animals offers radical new possibilities for encountering and thinking with other animals, and thus for the politics of animal liberation. Examining the machinations of power that legitimize the killing of nonhuman animals, Zoogenesis shows too how thoroughly entangled they are with the 'noncriminal' putting to death of human animals... Iveson thereafter explores the possibility of interventions...that potentially make it unthinkable that living beings can be 'legitimately' slaughtered.

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