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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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8 Engaged Activist Research: Challenging Apolitical Objectivity Lara Drew and Nik Taylor


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Engaged Activist Research

Challenging Apolitical Objectivity

Lara Drew and Nik Taylor

In this chapter we address the eighth principle of Critical Animal Studies (CAS) which points to the need to “reject pseudo-objective academic analysis by explicitly clarifying its normative values and political commitments.” We argue that to make claims of non- or apolitical scholarship is itself an ideological sleight of hand. We recognise that we are not the first to make this claim but point out that it is rarely considered vis-à-vis human-animal scholarship, outside of CAS approaches (see, e.g., Best, Nocella, Kahn, Gigliotti, & Kemmerer, 2007). We explain precisely what is critical about Critical Animal Studies, namely the fact that the concept of the intersectionality of oppression is central to all work in this oeuvre and argue that once this is fully realised, the very idea of writing “objectively” can only be seen as a myth promoted on behalf of the institutions with a vested interest in maintaining the anti-animal status quo.


This chapter stems from our experiences as both activists and scholars and, while we do not discuss this directly, it underpins what follows. We wanted to write this chapter because we feel strongly that activism and scholarship can be complementary. More, we also feel that claims to the contrary—that research must of necessity be objective—are highly problematic for numerous reasons and we return to this argument in some...

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