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The juxtaposition of biopolitical critique and animal studies--two subjects seldom theorized together--signals the double-edged intervention of Animal Capital. Nicole Shukin pursues a resolutely materialist engagement with the "question of the animal," challenging the philosophical idealism that has dogged the question by tracing how the politics of capital and of animal life impinge on one another in market cultures of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Animal Bodies, Renaissance Culture examines how the shared embodied existence of early modern human and nonhuman animals challenged the establishment of species distinctions. The material conditions of the early modern world brought humans and animals into complex interspecies relationships that have not been fully accounted for in critical readings of the period's philosophical, scientific, or literary representations of animals. Where such prior readings have focused on the role of reason in debates about human exceptionalism, this book turns instead to a series of cultural sites in which we find animal and human bodies sharing environments, mutually transforming and defining one another's lives. To uncover the animal body's role in anatomy, eroticism, architecture, labor, and consumption, Karen Raber analyzes canonical works including More's Utopia, Shakespeare's Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, and Sidney's poetry, situating them among readings of human and equine anatomical texts, medical recipes, theories of architecture and urban design, husbandry manuals, and horsemanship treatises. Raber reconsiders interactions between environment, body, and consciousness that we find in early modern human-animal relations. Scholars of the Renaissance period recognized animals' fundamental role in fashioning what we call "culture," she demonstrates, providing historical narratives about embodiment and the cultural constructions of species difference that are often overlooked in ecocritical and posthumanist theory that attempts to address the "question of the animal."
What is the role of government in protecting animal welfare? What principles should policy makers draw on as they try to balance animal welfare against human liberty? Much has been written in recent years on our moral duties towards animals, but scholars and activists alike have neglected the important question of how far the state may go to enforce those duties. Kimberly K. Smith fills that gap by exploring how liberal political principles apply to animal welfare policy. Focusing on animal welfare in the United States, Governing Animals begins with an account of the historical relationship between animals and the development of the American liberal welfare state. It then turns to the central theoretical argument: Some animals (most prominently pets and livestock) may be considered members of the liberal social contract. That conclusion justifies limited state intervention to defend their welfare - even when such intervention may harm human citizens. Taking the analysis further, the study examines whether citizens may enjoy property rights in animals, what those rights entail, how animals may be represented in our political and legal institutions, and what strategies for reform are most compatible with liberal principles. The book takes up several policy issues along the way, from public funding of animal rescue operations to the ethics of livestock production, animal sacrifice, and animal fighting. Beyond even these specific policy questions, this book asks what sort of liberalism is suitable for the challenges of the twenty-first century. Smith argues that investigating the political morality of our treatment of animals gives us insight into how to design practices and institutions that protect the most vulnerable members of our society, thus making of our shared world a more fitting home for both humans and the nonhumans to which we are so deeply connected.
Political and social commentators regularly bemoan the decline of morality in the modern world. They claim that the norms and values that held society together in the past are rapidly eroding, to be replaced by permissiveness and empty hedonism. But as Edward Rubin demonstrates in this powerful account of moral transformations, these prophets of doom are missing the point. Morality is not diminishing; instead, a new morality, centered on an ethos of human self-fulfillment, is arising to replace the old one. As Rubin explains, changes in morality have gone hand in hand with changes in the prevailing mode of governance throughout the course of Western history. During the Early Middle Ages, a moral system based on honor gradually developed. In a dangerous world where state power was declining, people relied on bonds of personal loyalty that were secured by generosity to their followers and violence against their enemies. That moral order, exemplified in the early feudal system and in sagas like The Song of Roland, The Song of the Cid, and the Arthurian legends has faded, but its remnants exist today in criminal organizations like the Mafia and in the rap music of the urban ghettos. When state power began to revive in the High Middle Ages through the efforts of the European monarchies, and Christianity became more institutionally effective and more spiritually intense, a new morality emerged. Described by Rubin as the morality of higher purposes, it demanded that people devote their personal efforts to achieving salvation and their social efforts to serving the emerging nation-states. It insisted on social hierarchy, confined women to subordinate roles, restricted sex to procreation, centered child-rearing on moral inculcation, and countenanced slavery and the marriage of pre-teenage girls to older men. Our modern era, which began in the late 18th century, has seen the gradual erosion of this morality of higher purposes and the rise of a new morality of self-fulfillment, one that encourages individuals to pursue the most meaningful and rewarding life-path. Far from being permissive or a moral abdication, it demands that people respect each other's choices, that sex be mutually enjoyable, that public positions be allocated according to merit, and that society provide all its members with their minimum needs so that they have the opportunity to fulfill themselves. Where people once served the state, the state now functions to serve the people. The clash between this ascending morality and the declining morality of higher purposes is the primary driver of contemporary political and cultural conflict. A sweeping, big-idea book in the vein of Francis Fukuyama's The End of History, Charles Taylor's The Secular Age, and Richard Sennett's The Fall of Public Man, Edward Rubin's new volume promises to reshape our understanding of morality, its relationship to government, and its role in shaping the emerging world of High Modernity.
Considering that much of human society is structured through its interaction with non-human animals, and since human society relies heavily on the exploitation of animals to serve human needs, human–animal studies has become a rapidly expanding field of research, featuring a number of distinct positions, perspectives, and theories that require nuanced explanation and contextualization. The first book to provide a full overview of human–animal studies, this volume focuses on the conceptual construction of animals in American culture and the way in which it reinforces and perpetuates hierarchical human relationships rooted in racism, sexism, and class privilege. Margo DeMello considers interactions between humans and animals within the family, the law, the religious and political system, and other major social institutions, and she unpacks the different identities humans fashion for themselves and for others through animals. Essays also cover speciesism and evolutionary continuities; the role and preservation of animals in the wild; the debate over zoos and the use of animals in sports; domestication; agricultural practices such as factory farming; vivisection; animal cruelty; animal activism; the representation of animals in literature and film; and animal ethics. Sidebars highlight contemporary controversies and issues, with recommendations for additional reading, educational films, and related websites. DeMello concludes with an analysis of major philosophical positions on human social policy and the future of human–animal relations.
Why has the academy struggled to link advocacy for animals to advocacy for various human groups? Within cultural studies, in which advocacy can take the form of a theoretical intervention, scholars have resisted arguments that add "species" to race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and other human-identity categories as a site for critical analysis. Species Matters considers whether cultural studies should pay more attention to animal advocacy and whether, in turn, animal studies should pay more attention to questions raised by cultural theory. The contributors to this volume explore these issues particularly in relation to the "humane" treatment of animals and various human groups and the implications, both theoretical and practical, of blurring the distinction between "the human" and "the animal." They address important questions raised by the history of representing humans as the only animal capable of acting humanely and provide a framework for reconsidering the nature of humane discourse, whether in theory, literary and cultural texts, or current advocacy movements outside of the academy.
Nicholas Humphrey's writings about the evolution of the mind have done much to set the agenda for contemporary psychology. Here, in a series of riveting essays, he invites us to 'take another look' at a variety of the central and not-so-central issues: the evolution of consciousness, the nature of the self, multiple personality disorder, the placebo effect, cave art, religious miracles, medieval animal trials, the seductions of dictatorship, and much more.