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Defining Critical Animal Studies

An Intersectional Social Justice Approach for Liberation

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Edited By Anthony J. Nocella II, John Sorenson, Kim Socha and Atsuko Matsuoka

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. With apolitical animal studies and exploitative animal research dominating higher education, this book offers a timely counter-narrative that demands the liberation of all oppressed beings and the environment. Defining Critical Animal Studies will interest educators, students, activists, community members, and policy makers seeking accessible theory that can be put into action.
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Foreword: David Nibert

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← VIII | IX → FOREWORD

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David Nibert

The oppression of humans and other animals always has been deeply entangled. When humans began routinely to hunt large animals—primarily a male pursuit—they could do so only by creating weapons. Those who were most successful at such killing exerted growing power; social hierarchy began to emerge and the status of women began to decline.

The beginning of systemic human exploitation and social stratification can be traced to the advent of agricultural society roughly 10,000 years ago. Agricultural systems were tied to the exploitation of large social animals—including cows, horses, sheep, pigs, and goats—who were captured and exploited as laborers and for their hair, skin, body fluids, and flesh. The possession of large numbers of these other animals became a sign of wealth and dominance, and elite males’ treatment of them as property was extended to women and devalued people. Countless people were relegated to the socially constructed position of peasant, serf, and slave. Growing numbers of men on the backs of horses, armed with weapons—originally created for killing other animals—were dispatched by elites to raid other peoples for their captive animals and other sources of wealth.

Some societies relied almost entirely on animal exploitation for subsistence, such as the patriarchal and highly aggressive nomadic pastoralists of the Eurasian steppe. They rampaged across the continent for centuries in search of the fresh grazing land and water needed to...

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