Simon During, Professor of English at Johns Hopkins University, argues that cultural studies is “an academic field that we can define, without messing about, as the engaged analysis of contemporary cultures.” In part, cultural studies interrogates racism, sexism, classism, and a host of other structural and systemic injustices, which exclude various Others from the category of “human subject”. Despite its huge contributions, the field has largely failed to critically grapple with issues related to animals and animality. Yet given the area’s political and intellectual commitments, it would seem well-suited to address speciesism and “the animal question.”
Bridge builders, such as Dr. Jodey Castricano, Professor in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, are laying major planks across the yawning gap between cultural studies and the animal question. In her new edited anthology, Animal Subjects: An Ethical Reader in a Posthuman World, Castricano and other contributors examine the limits of humanism and challenge the traditional purview of cultural studies. In this interview, Castricano describes the tangible ethical and political consequences of such intellectual work for animals, and the importance of empathy in these approaches. As she stresses, it’s not just animals’ treatment but also their subjectivity that matters a great deal.
For anyone interested in topics such as animal captivity, advocate history, current scientific debates (including those related to “selfish gene theory”), language experiments, vivisection, philosophy and ethics, postmodernism, legal theory, among others, Animal Subjects offers a range of unique entry points into some of today’s most interesting animal-centred scholarship.
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