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Intersectionality of Critical Animal Studies

A Historical Collection

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Edited By Anthony J. Nocella II and Amber E. George

Intersectionality of Critical Animal Studies: A Historical Collection represents the very best that the internationally scholarly Journal for Critical Animal Studies (JCAS) has published in terms of articles that are written by public critical scholar-activists-organizers for public critical scholar-activists-organizers. This move toward publishing pieces about engaging social change, rather than high-theoretical detached analysis of nonhuman animals in society, is to regain focus for liberation at all costs. The essays in this collection focus on intersectionality scholarship within the realm of Critical Animal Studies, and discuss issues related to race, gender, disability, class, and queerness. Not only are these articles historically significant within the field of Critical Animal Studies, but they are integral to the overall social justice movement. Intersectionality of Critical Animal Studies: A Historical Collection should be read by anyone interested in the Critical Animal Studies field, as we consider them to be classic writings that should be respected as foundational texts. There are many interesting and innovative texts, but these are historical, not only because they were published in JCAS, but because they were among the first to publish on a particular intersectional issue.

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Chapter Nine: The Subhuman as a Cultural Agent of Violence (Maneesha Deckha)

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CHAPTER NINE

The Subhuman as a Cultural Agent of Violence

MANEESHA DECKHA

 

Introduction

One of the organizing narratives of Western thought and the institutions it has shaped is humanism and the idea that human beings are at the core of the social and cultural order (Asad, 2003; Wolfe, 2003a). The cultural critique humanism has endured, by way of academic theory and social movements, has focused on the failure of its promise of universal equal treatment and dignity for all human beings. To address this failing, a rehabilitative approach to humanism is usually adopted with advocates seeking to undo humanism’s exclusions by expanding its ambit and transporting vulnerable human groups from subhuman to human status. Law has responded by including more and more humans under the coveted category of personhood (Naffine, 2009). Yet, the logic of the human/subhuman binary typically survives this critique with the dependence of the coveted human status on the subhuman (and the vulnerabilities it enables) going unnoticed (Asad, 2003).

This gap in analysis is evident in how most of us think about violence and its related concept of vulnerability. Some would even say that what sets us apart from nonhumans is a capacity for vulnerability (Oliver, 2009). Others who address human–nonhuman relationships more closely might say that what sets human apart from nonhuman animals, if anything, is our capacity for violence (Kheel, 2008). More particular still, feminists would highlight the...

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