Presentation on theme: "Dr. Richard J White Sheffield Hallam University Dr. Simon Springer University of Victoria, Canada, Anarchist Studies."— Presentation transcript:
Dr. Richard J White Sheffield Hallam University Dr. Simon Springer University of Victoria, Canada, Anarchist Studies Network Conference 2.0 September 2012 Loughborough
Content 1. Introduction Rise of animal studies Importance of Anarchism Animal liberation, human liberation 3. Strategies and sites of resistance "Negative" obligation (no milk, no meat) Critical pedagogy Acts of rescue 2. Beyond "Rights"? Anarchism and the Purity of Rebellion Simone Weil: Appeal to 'Justice' Élisée Reclus: The Great Kinship Giovanni Baldelli: Purity and Rebellion
Rise of mainstream academic research focused on human-nonhuman animal relations Human/ animal relationalities Zoo-ontologies More-than- human geographies Zoo- ethnographies Conscious Raising: growing wealth of knowledge on animal agency, cognition, creativity and consciousness Sociology Philosophy Psychology Anthropology Feminist studies Queer theory Geography Sentience studies Worldwide, approximately 90 billion land-based nonhumans are killed every year in the farming industry. 150 million a day. Over 40 million cattle, calves, sheep, pigs and around 900 million chickens are killed every year in the United Kingdom for meat.
So *despite* this celebrated scholarly engagement with the "animal question" mass production and slaughter of other animals sees no limits. Why? Failure to provide effective tools of resistance? Failure to provide counter- hegemonic spaces of work? "Most mainstream animal studies make a reformist or depoliticized approach that fails to mount more serious critique of underlying issues of political economy and speciesist philosophy." (Best)
Need for Anarchism Anarchism stands in opposition to all forms of unjustified discrimination, hierarchy, and violence and sees oppression as a complex of problems to be addressed at the root, not sliced off at the branch. "Hostility by animal lib activists against the statist, capitalist, racist and ageist Establishment... The more we recognize the commonality and interdependence of our struggles, which we once considered quite distinguished from one another, the more we understand what liberation really means." (Brian Dominick, 1997: 5) Why Anarchism, why now? Unique position Attention to political Economy Emphasis on Intersectionality and alliance politics Recognises diversity of tactics/ strategies Attention to context/ sites of resistance
Animal liberation a form of human liberation "What has attracted less attention is how human-animal interactions are often articulated through affective/emotional registers. " (Jones, 2011)
Weil: On Justice At the bottom of the heart of every human being,... there is something that goes on indomitably expecting, in the teeth of all experience of crimes committed, suffered, and witnessed, that good and not evil will be done to him... Every time that there arises from the depths of the human heart the childish cry..."Why am I being hurt?", then there is certainly injustice." (Simone Weil, Human Personality) Possible objections to agitating for Rights (humans/ other animals) 1.Inadequate notion of 'person' (what is sacred/ better captured in Albert Schweitzer's appeal to have reverence for life)? 2.Commercial flavour (exchange/ measure quantity/ legal claims) Appeal for justice, not rights One cannot imagine St. Francis of Assisi talking about talking about (animal) rights.
Reclus: On Becoming Beautiful "It is on account of the ugliness of it that we also abhor vivisection … It is the ugliness of the deed which fill us with disgust when we see a naturalist pinning live butterflies into his box…Ugliness in persons, in deeds, in life, in surrounding Nature - this is our worst foe. Let us become beautiful ourselves, and let our life be beautiful!" (Elisee Reclus, 1901) The Great Kinship (commonality, rather than difference) Mutual Aid (Kropotkin)
"It was the first uncaged animal Shevek had seen close up, and it was more fearless of him than he was of it.... The otter sat up on its haunches and looked at him. Its eyes were dark, short with gold, intelligent, curious, innocent. "Ammar," Shevek whispered, caught by that gaze across the gulf of being - 'brother'." (2006: 132) The Great Kinship/ of being
Baldelli: A Purity of Rebellion "Anarchism is a purity of rebellion. A pig who struggles wildly and rends the air with his cries while he is help to be slaughtered, and a baby who kicks and screams when, wanting warmth and his mother's breast, he is made to wait in the cold - these are two samples of natural rebellion. Natural rebellion always inspires either deep sympathy and identification with the rebelling creature, or a stiffening of the heart and an activation of aggressive-defensive mechanisms to silence an accusing truth. This truth is that each living being is an end in itself; that nothing gives a being the right to make another a mere instrument of his purposes. The rebel against authority holds to this truth everything that concerns him and recognizes no other judge than himself (sic)." Baldelli (1971: 17)
All social authorities, in addition to public opinion in general, "work together to harden the character of the child" in relationship to animals used for food. This conditioning, (Reclus) says, destroys our sense of kinship with a being that "loves as we do, feels as we do, and might also progress under our influence, if it does not regress along with us." (Clark and Martin, 2004: 33)
1. Unlearning archism: critical pedagogy "While a concern for nonviolence has undoubtedly shaped my political thought, after spending the last few years reading anarchist philosophy, I now realize that I was born an anarchist. In fact, we all were. In my reading I was not actually learning to be an anarchist; I was instead engaged in a process of unlearning all the archist ideas that had been inculcated in me since childhood" Simon Springer, (forthcoming) War and Pieces, Space and Polity. Violence is naturalised and normalised "Easygoing" speciesism
Writing and teaching as critical direct action Break down traditional boundaries between academia, activism, policy-making circles, wider public circles. Recognise the key points of intersection Restoring absent referents - speaking the literal truth - geography that breaks your heart (Catherine Nolin, 2010)
3. 'Negative obligation': daily practices of non-violence To not eat other animals bodies, NOR drink their milk, wear their skin etc. Veganism as anarchist praxis “29h59’59” by Chinese artist Liu Qiang
3. Focus on sites of resistance: actively "liberate" hidden spaces and places of suffering Attempts to change society - acts of rescue. How to make more visible these hidden geographies of animal suffering and killing? How to better integrate the authentic voices, and experiences of 'marginalised' activists/ groups into "our" texts, especially those who have first-hand witness to these violent spaces (at enormous risk/ emotional cost to themselves)?
4. Think critically about the animal(s) condition. i.e. "The actual life situation of most nonhuman animals in human society and culture, as physically and emotionally experiences with its routine repertoire of violence, deprivation, desperation, agony, apathy, suffering, and death." (Pederson and Stanescu, 2011: ix)
In a general way, the temptation to give up thinking altogether is the most difficult one to resist in a life like this: one feels so clearly that it is the only way to stop suffering! Simone Weil, (2005: 21) Final thought: bearing witness to animal abuse is a heavy burden to bear... Challenge/ responsibility to use anarchist praxis to: Provide more effective tools of resistance Provide counter-hegemonic spaces of work within and beyond the academy
References/ Wider Reading S. Best The Rise of Critical Animal Studies: Putting Theory into Action and Animal Liberation into Higher Education B. Dominick Animal Liberation and Social revolution O. Jones, 2011 The Animality of Rural Landscapes in Affective Registers. UK. L. Mitchell (2011) Moral Disengagement and Support for Nonhuman Animal Farming Society & Animals E. Reclus On Vegetarianism K. Socha (2011) Women, Destruction, and the Avant-Garde: A Paradigm for Animal Liberation, Rodophi Press. We Animals (photography) Journal for Critical Animal Studies for-critical-animal-studies/http://www.criticalanimalstudies.org/journal- for-critical-animal-studies/