Critical Animal Studies
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Having roots as a specialized philosophical movement at Oxford University in the early 1970s, critical animal studies is now taking shape as a wide-open, multidisciplinary endeavor through which scholars across the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, and others ranging from creative writers to architects, are joining together to address issues related to today's unprecedented subjection of animals. Introducing this emerging field, Dawne McCance describes the wide range of analysis and approaches represented, looking at much-debated practices such as industrialized or "factory" farming of animals, handling and slaughter, animal experimentation, wildlife management, animal captivity, global genomics, meat-eating, and animal sacrifice. McCance equally focuses on many of the theoretical and ethical problems that recur across the field, raising critical questions about prevailing approaches to animal ethics, and inviting new ways of thinking about and responding to animals.

1. Introduction

2. Animal Liberation on the Factory Farm

3. Animal Rights in the Wild

4. Animal Experimentation: In the Lab and on the Farm

5. The Death of “The Animal”: What’s in a Word?

6. Open Cages: Animots and Zoos

7. Feminist Contributions to Critical Animal Studies

8. Killing and Eating Animals: Perspectives from World Religions

9. The Subject of Ethics: Cultural Studies, Art, Architecture, and Literature

10. Turning Points

Works Cited



Publié par
Date de parution 11 décembre 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781438445366
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Dawne McCance

Published by State University of New York Press, Albany
© 2013 State University of New York
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.
For information, contact State University of New York Press, Albany, NY
Production by Diane Ganeles Marketing by Anne M. Valentine
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
McCance, Dawane, 1944–
Critical animal studies : an introduction / Dawne McCance.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index.
ISBN 978-1-4384-4535-9 (alk. paper) — ISBN 978-1-4384-4534-2 (pbk. : alk. paper)
1. Animal rights. 2. Animal welfare—Moral and ethical aspects. I. Title.
HV4708.M387 2013
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

This book is for Erin

Chopped Liver
M y first experience as a graduate student, newly admitted to a master of science program in biochemistry, involved protein synthesis experimentation conducted on rats in a medical science laboratory. Actually, the basement room of the since-condemned and demolished building in which most of this research took place bore little resemblance to the university labs I had imagined or previously encountered. The entire research facility was old and crumbling, the basement area particularly bleak. The “animal lab” to which my supervisor assigned me—a windowless and dimly lighted cell—contained sixty wire mesh cages suspended in rows on a metal frame. A table against one wall held an old, and very dull, guillotine—smaller than a paper cutter, and not nearly as efficient. My assignment as a student researcher was to nurture a new shipment of rats (they arrived soon after I did), that is, to feed them carefully allotted daily portions of a diet formulated to determine the ingredients essential to protein synthesis. I was instructed to weigh the rats daily, and when they achieved the desired mass, to decapitate them, cut open the thorax and remove the liver, and take it to a secondary lab upstairs. There, usually in late afternoon sunlight after my supervisor had left for the day, I would queasily chop the still-warm liver into small pieces, cauterize it in a centrifuge, and do a protein analysis on the results.
In the critical animal studies literature, the rodents favored for laboratory experimentation are not always counted as animals having a strong moral claim. For many, then, my rats would have had lower ontological and moral status than the puppies in the basement lab down the hall from mine, the lab that my student researcher colleagues called their “puppy mill.” Although I did not give my rats names, such as those Jane Goodall bestowed on her Gombie chimpanzees, one thing I learned in working with them is that, as much as any puppies I have known, and probably much like chimpanzees, each has a “personality,” temperament, and behavioral features all its own, features I recorded at the time in my journal. Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce (28), reporting on the work of neurobiologist Jack Panksepp, suggest that rats are social, experience joy, and laugh when tickled. I can assert that they squeal and scream in pain. They also demonstrate intelligence—the sort of intelligence a rat needs to determine how one's own cage might be pried open, and in turn the cages of one's fellow rats. When only five of the animals had been brought to the guillotine, this was the kind of “rat intelligence” that, somewhat to my relief but much to my supervisor's chagrin, put an end to the protein synthesis experiment: an overnight rebellion of rats releasing rats, and large rats eating small ones. The event brought not only a catastrophic halt to that summer's research, but also, with my decision to forego a career in experimental science, the close of my study of biochemistry. I remember my father's dismay at the news that I was withdrawing from the biochemistry graduate program, and my feeble answer to his question why: “If I study and teach philosophy, I won't have to spend my life cutting off heads.”
At the time, I was clearly unaware of the nonliteral “putting to death,” in which, as Jacques Derrida observes, philosophy and other humanist discourses participate “ to the extent that they do not sacrifice sacrifice ” (Derrida “Eating,” 113). Is it fair to say that a “sacrificial structure” (113) prevails in today's critical animal studies and animal ethics, where one might least expect it to be found? It is a key question with which to open this book—and the question on which the book concludes.
I wish to acknowledge the support of the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada, St. John's College, and the Department of Religion at the University of Manitoba. Thank you to David Farrell Krell for his support, including his reading of, and interest in, this book. Thank you to my graduate student, Bruce Conan, for proofreading the original manuscript. And thanks to Andrew Kenyon, Diane Ganeles, and the excellent staff at SUNY Press.

N ever mind that the astronomy of Nicolas Copernicus amounted, in Arthur Koestler's words (179), to no more than a ramshackle hodge-podge of epicycles, within fifty years of the 1543 publication of De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) , the transition to mechanical philosophy, and thus to modernity, was underway. By the beginning of the seventeenth century, “the entire episteme of Western culture found its fundamental arrangement modified,” Michel Foucault writes in The Order of Things ; “the seventeenth century marks the disappearance of the old superstitious and magical beliefs and the entry of nature, at long last, into the scientific order” (54). A world previously understood “as a complex of kinships, resemblances, and affinities, and in which language and things were endlessly interwoven,” gradually gave way to a configuration for which analysis , division into the smallest constituent units, is the fundamental way of knowing, and for which the activity of the mind consists no longer “in drawing things together , in setting out on a quest for everything that might reveal some sort of kinship, attraction, or secretly shared nature within them, but, on the contrary, in discriminating ,” dividing, separating identities from differences (54–55). Under this new mode of analysis, the word individual lost the meaning it had in medieval argument—that which is indivisible , comprehensible only as a whole and indivisible from the whole to which it belongs (Raymond Williams 161–165)—in favor of its modern connotation: a single, detached, and soon-autonomous entity, itself divisible into lower and higher parts, animal body and animating mind. As will emerge in the following chapters, it is animals—countless and nameless animals—who continue to bear the burden of this modern bifurcation of the living from the dead.
Even before De revolutionibus was put on the Papal Index in 1616, Galileo set the stage for the bifurcation when, peering through his telescope at the moon, he saw, not the heavenly bodies of the ancients, but a barren, dead , lunar landscape. In his 1610 Sidereus nuncius (Starry Messenger) , Galileo provided the seventeenth century with what Timothy Reiss suggests is its “most eloquent metaphor”: I/eye-instrument-world or mind-sign-world (24). For one thing, the metaphor signals the birth of perspective, whereby the single, immobile I/eye that looks out upon the world (from the centric point of a visual pyramid or through a telescope) is both disincarnated , set apart from its body, and detached , set apart from what it sees (Jay Downcast , 70; “Scopic,” 8; Panofsky Perspective , 27–36). As soon as this disincarnated I/eye claimed “clear and distinct” certainty for its lone viewpoint, the linguistic sign no longer retained its participatory sense, becoming instead as transparent as a telescope, not involved in constituting “truth” but serving merely as an instrument of it. With this withdrawal of language into “transparency and neutrality” (Foucault Order , 56), the new regime established itself as at once analytical and referential (see Reiss 24)—even if the “truth” of its “reifying male look,” inevitably “turned its targets into stone” (Jay “Scopic,” 8).
Most, if not all, contributors to critical animal studies would agree that, particularly since the seventeenth century, modern Western ways of knowing nonhuman animals, inseparable from violent techniques practiced on them, have turned animals into “stone,” that is, into inert objects, useful and disposable things: reproductive machines is the term ethicist Peter Singer uses when discussing the fate of sows in today's industrialized hog farming, where the goal is to use all available manufacturing techniques to “produce” as many as possible pigs per sow per year, and to fast-track those pigs, those “products,” to slaughter weight (Singer Liberation , 126). It is as if we have come full circle from the understanding and use of animals proposed in the seventeenth century by René Descartes (1596–1650), who, with his binary (two-term, either/or) mode of organizing all that exists, is often cast as the “father” of modern thought. Cartesian dualism, though it takes many forms, is rooted in a hierarchical intelligible/sensible, mind/body opposition: according to D

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