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Defining Critical Animal Studies

An Intersectional Social Justice Approach for Liberation


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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6 Critical Animal Studies as an Interdisciplinary Field: A Holistic Approach to Confronting Oppression Kim Socha and Les Mitchell


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Critical Animal Studies as an Interdisciplinary Field

A Holistic Approach to Confronting Oppression

Kim Socha and Les Mitchell

Rhinoceros poaching, Stephen King’s fiction, children’s rights, Western literature, the sex trade in Thailand, and revolution—both literally and of the mind—might seem to comprise a list of disconnected items with little in common. However, they are just some of the topics we discuss in this chapter about the critical relations of power and how those relations specifically affect those who suffer from the unjust exercise of cultural control. Simultaneously, we call for a response to diverse situations of injustice in terms of acting ethically whenever an individual or group is oppressed, thereby encompassing a greater understanding of how authority is formed and wielded. Only then can we develop a call to action and foster solidarity among social justice movements. And as suggested by the list of seemingly detached ideas with which we begin this paragraph, greater understanding and real change come through looking at the world and its problems holistically.

Within higher education, interdisciplinary studies (IS) challenges established boundaries between distinct fields of knowledge. In fact, IS is a degree major at colleges and universities that recognize certain problems and questions are too multifarious to address within the confines of one academic field. To wit, the University of California at Berkeley (n.d.) promotes its Interdisciplinary Studies Field major as offering “students the opportunity to develop an individualized...

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