There is an interesting division in the animal studies field of academics and activists. Most animal studies folks agree that studying animals is important and that we should engage in a renewed consideration of animals in our ethical and political formulations. However, the way animal studies scholars and activists approach the ‘question of the animal’ varies considerably. What ‘ethics’ means to some is entirely different and involves a wide variety of translations in how we (human-animals concerned with non-human-animals) live our daily lives. For some, veganism is the starting point–an essential requirement if we claim to care about animals’ well-being; for others, writing on companion animals and wildlife, for example, is a way of caring about animals that doesn’t require the self-reflexive consideration that animals, perhaps, should not be eaten. As an aspiring animal studies scholar, myself, I sometimes forget that all animal studies scholars do not start from the basic belief that farmed animals should be able to live their lives free from the suffering and early deaths we inflict upon them. Some scholars do not believe that killing animals for our uses is wrong.
Minnesota Press just published a new book, called Loving Animals, by Kathy Rudy, an ethics and women’s studies professor at Duke University. According to the publisher’s website:
Loving Animals argues that to achieve such goals as ending animal testing and factory farming, activists need to better understand the profound emotional attachment many people have with animals. Offering an alternative to both the acceptance of animal exploitation and radical animal liberation, Kathy Rudy shows that a deeper understanding of this emotional bond can redefine the human–animal relationship. ~Minnesota Press
Sounds potentially good, right? While I have not read the book yet, last night, I read a post by Professor Rudy herself which was published on the Minnesota Press blog. As many online articles and blog posts do, her post has provoked an interesting debate, with many intelligent and well-articulated responses.
To read the original post, click “With veganism and animal rights causes, a middle ground is always best”, by Kathy Rudy. Be sure to read the comments at the bottom of this post, which are quite good.
For a response from one of the original ecofeminists concerned with veganism and speciesism click “Another feminist rationalizing eating animals”, by Carol J Adams.
And finally, for a bit of humor, read “Kathy Rudy in Translation” by Erik Marcus (author of Meat Market and Vegan.com).
Any thoughts on this exchange?