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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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Introduction: Examining the Nexus: Critical Animal Studies and Critical Pedagogy (Carolyn Drew / Amber E. George / Sinem Ketenci / John Lupinacci / Anthony J. Nocella II / Ian Purdy / J.L. Schatz)


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Introduction: Examining the Nexus: Critical Animal Studies and Critical Pedagogy



Critical animal studies (CAS) has increasingly grown as a scholarly movement over the past decade, after emerging out of critical thinkers who wished to dislodge the tenants of humanism. However, despite its growth, CAS has been conflated with other branches of critical theory and scholarship on speciesism. These other approaches include strictly utilitarian concerns surrounding human–animal relationships, embodied in thinkers like Peter Singer and pragmatic reformist organizations like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). It also includes approaches that retreat purely into the ontological origins of epistemic constructions of the animal, embodied by Derridean deconstruction and academic scholarship. What distinguishes CAS from other approaches to human–animal studies is that CAS mandates theory be intimately tied to action with the intent of supporting total liberation from an intersectional perspective grounded in anarchism and supporting radical revolutionary direct action such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF; Best & Nocella II, 2004). This is not to say any action advancing the cause of total liberation will be perfect or uncompromising when performed. At the same time, the endpoint of total liberation for all—both human and nonhuman alike—must not be sacrificed when weighing such concessions. The reasoning is that all too often small advancements for reform...

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