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Defining Critical Animal Studies

An Intersectional Social Justice Approach for Liberation


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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1 An Overview of Anthropocentrism, Humanism, and Speciesism in Critical Animal Theory Adam Weitzenfeld and Melanie Joy


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An Overview of Anthropocentrism,Humanism, and Speciesism in Critical Animal Theory

Adam Weitzenfeld and Melanie Joy

This chapter serves as an overview of the conceptualization of human existence as something superior and opposed to animals and animality. While previously given independent treatments, the concepts of anthropocentrism, humanism, speciesism, and carnism in this chapter will be differentiated and discussed as having mutually reinforced one another through constructing, legitimating, and reproducing a human-animal hierarchy and binary.

As shall be argued, anthropocentrism, which has narcissistically privileged humans as the center of all significance, is not an innate disposition but a historical outcome of a distorted humanism in which human freedom is founded upon the unfreedom of human and animal others. Nonetheless, the humanist aspiration to ground knowledge in reason through modern science has undermined the tenability of a human-animal binary and hierarchy, thus resulting in a critique of speciesist beliefs and institutions. Yet still, residue of anthropocentric thought is retained in the work of humanistic thinkers opposed to speciesism who take for granted the presuppositions of classical humanism.

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