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Animal Subjects

An Ethical Reader in a Posthuman World

Jodey Castricano, editor

Cultural Studies Series
Environmental Humanities Series

 

Paper 324 pp.

ISBN13: 978-0-88920-512-3

Release Date: May 2008

Online discount: 25%

$42.95  $32.21

 


   

Although Cultural Studies has directed sustained attacks against sexism and racism, the question of the animal has lagged behind developments in broader society with regard to animal suffering in factory farming, product testing, and laboratory experimentation, as well in zoos, rodeos, circuses, and public aquariums. The contributors to Animal Subjects are scholars and writers from diverse perspectives whose work calls into question the boundaries that divide the animal kingdom from humanity, focusing on the medical, biological, cultural, philosophical, and ethical concerns between non-human animals and ourselves. The first of its kind to feature the work of Canadian scholars and writers in this emergent field, this collection aims to include the non-human-animal question as part of the ethical purview of Cultural Studies and to explore the question in interdisciplinary terms.

Jodey Castricano is an associate professor in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan) and has long been an advocate of animal rights. Research concerns extend to the history of ideas in the nineteenth century, particularly in the context of Darwinian theory and the development of psychoanalysis. Previous publications include Cryptomimesis: The Gothic and Jacques Derrida’s Ghost Writing (2001). Gothic Subjects: Literature, Film, and Psychoanalysis is forthcoming from University of Wales Press.

Reviews

“The strength of the collection is in its diversity and its difference from existing literature on the subject.... This book, ranging over many aspects of the subject and including what we might regard as the question of what is central to ethics, is a worthy and original addition to the literature and anyone who reads it will find that its ideas continue to nag.”

— Ralph Blunden, moderator of Ethics Cafe, Melbourne, Australia

“The scholars and writers who have contributed to this collection are notable for their opinions on the philosophical boundary that separates humans from animals.... Castricano brings their disparate voices together in this reader, the first of its kind to feature the work of Canadian scholars.”

The Globe and Mail

Animal Subjects...is...a major contribution to the overlapping interdisciplinary field variously named animal studies, human-animal studies, or even critical animal studies, depending on one’s ethical and political commitments. The text is unique in that it treads a line between abstract academic and more accessible and overtly political writing. Consequently, the text will likely make people nervous on both sides of the current debates about what role, if any, advocacy should have within animal studies. On one hand, there is a fear that rigorous scholarship often suffers under the desire to ameliorate or abolish animals’ suffering and use. On the other, there is a concern that the animals of animal studies are now regarded as the next reservoir of interesting topics to tap, without any kind of accountability to the billions of non-human beings who are harmed through institutionalized animal practices. Fortunately, Animal Subjects works against the notion that careful scholarship and political weight are inversely proportional.... The insightful text demands that we confront the limitations and myriad contradictions in various schools of thought, such as ecology, sociobiology, legal discourse and philosophy among others...ground-breaking.... Hopefully, Animal Subjects is just the beginning.”

— Lauren E.J. Corman, Topia

“Castricano has succeeded in her attempt to highlight the heterogeneity of animal studies. The essays offer a shining example of the plurality with which the human-animal relation can be investigated. The heterogeneity at times throws up interesting contrasts as different authors interpret the same philosophies in entirely different ways. The lack of a deeper metatheoretical alliance is refreshing, as too often such collections concentrate on particular theoretical perspectives.... In lengthy collections such as this, such variety is a welcomed feature for the simple reason that it makes reading more enjoyable. It also enables lay people or first year students with little experience in philosophy to get something out of the book—although the book is best suited for more advanced students or academics. Plurality means that people from various fields—not just philosophy—will benefit from reading the book.... Perhaps the best feature of the book is its normative explicitness.... The editor and many of the authors make no secret of the fact that they hope for a radical change in how animals are treated and valued. There has been some tendency in animal studies to avoid the normative element: the animal question is problematized rather than analyzed, and normative claims remain implicit. Ethics concerning animals is thus marginalised.... However, since any views on animals will, by necessity, express normative stances, the pretence of ‘non-normativity’ is hopeless and tiring. Castricano and some of the authors have chosen well to take a different path and to manifest their views.... The book will be invaluable particularly for those interested in new directions in animal ethics and animal studies, for novelty is at the heart of many of the essays.”

— Elisa Aaltola, Manchester Metropolitan University/Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, Environmental Values

Animal Subjects is important for the authors’ meaningful engagement with this question of the animal and for its implicit and explicit Canadian context.... Castricano’s introductory chapter, outlining the links between cultural studies and animal oppression, is one of the best introductions to the field I have read.... I would be most comfortable using Animal Subjects as a text in an introductory, undergraduate animal-studies course as it is a book that is suited for those interested in how scholars, activists, and professionals (not that the three are ever mutually exclusive) working broadly across disciplines are critiquing and redefining both the boundaries of cultural studies and the more-than-human. Additionally, given the high proportion of Canadian authors and some explicitly Canadian settings, this geographic perspective makes it unique within the existing field of publications.”

— Gavan P.L. Watson, Canadian Literature