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Education for Total Liberation

Critical Animal Pedagogy and Teaching Against Speciesism


Edited By Anthony J. Nocella II, Carolyn Drew, Amber E. George, Sinem Ketenci, John Lupinacci, Ian Purdy and Joe Leeson-Schatz

Education for Total Liberation is a collection of essays from leaders in the field of critical animal pedagogy (CAP). CAP emerges from activist educators teaching critical animal studies and is rooted in critical theory as well as the animal advocacy movement. Critical animal studies (CAS) argues for an interdisciplinary approach to understanding our relationships with nonhuman animals. CAS challenges two specific fields of theory: (1) animal studies, rooted in vivisection and testing on animals in the hard sciences and (2) human-animal studies, which reinforces a socially constructed binary between humans and animals and adopts abstract theoretical approaches. In contrast, CAS takes a progressive and committed approach to scholarship and sees the exploitation of nonhuman animals as interrelated with oppression of humans based on class, gender, race, ability, sexuality, age, and citizenship. CAS promotes the liberation of all animals and challenges all systems of domination. Education for Total Liberation is appropriate for undergraduate and graduate level readers (and beyond) who wish to learn from examples of radical pedagogical projects shaped by CAS and critical pedagogy.

Contributing to this collection are Anne C. Bell, Anita de Melo, Carolyn Drew, Amber E. George, Karin Gunnarsson Dinker, Sinem Ketenci, John Lupinacci, Anthony J. Nocella II, Sean Parson, Helena Pedersen, Ian Purdy, Constance L. Russell, J.L. Schatz, Meneka Repka, William E. Shanahan III, and Richard J, White.

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9. Activist Education for Animal Ethics: The Imperative of Intervention in Education on the Non/Human (J.L. Schatz)


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9.   Activist Education for Animal Ethics: The Imperative of Intervention in Education on the Non/Human


Teaching total liberation requires more than mere theoretical discussions and isolated instances of activism. It requires grading on more than just what is said in the classroom or turned in at the end of a semester. It requires incentivizing the necessary lifestyle changes that translate theoretical foundations into concrete practices. Feminists have long argued that educators must refuse to divide the public from private in one’s approach to politics and education (Peterson, 2000). Following in this tradition, my chapter argues that evaluating students beyond what is traditionally considered gradable in the public sphere is not only the most effective way to teach non/human liberation but also one of the quickest ways to achieve its realization. I contend that such teaching practices are not only more effective in producing change but that they also foster a more enriching experience for students and teachers alike. A foundational premise of my chapter is that speciesism is every bit as insidious as any long list of –isms that exist (Best, 2013). Challenging speciesism within the academy is essential to defeat it since the rigorous testing of contemporary norms through classroom debate can dislodge the hegemonic assumptions about what is to count as fully human. To do so, student and teachers must take speciesism “seriously, not simply as another interesting category for academic analysis but as an ethical...

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