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«ISSN: 1948-352X Volume 10 Issue 3 2012 Journal for Critical Animal Studies Special issue Inquiries and Intersections: Queer Theory and ...»

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ISSN: 1948-352X

Volume 10 Issue 3 2012

Journal for

Critical Animal Studies

Special issue

Inquiries and Intersections:

Queer Theory and

Anti-Speciesist Praxis

Guest Editor: Jennifer Grubbs

ISSN: 1948-352X

Volume 10 Issue 3 2012



Jennifer Grubbs Jennygrubbs@gmail.com


Dr. Richard J White Richard.White@shu.ac.uk


Dr. Matthew Cole m.d.d.c.cole@open.ac.uk Vasile Stanescu vts@stanford.edu Dr. Susan Thomas susanveganthomas@gmail.com Dr. Richard Twine r.twine@lancaster.ac.uk Dr. Richard J White Richard.White@shu.ac.uk


Dr. Lindgren Johnson lindgrenhalejohnson@gmail.com Laura Shields lauraashields@hotmail.com


Dr. Carol Glasser cglasser@gmail.com Adam Weitzenfeld adam.weitzenfeld@gmail.com


For more information about the JCAS Editorial Board, and a list of the members of the

Editorial Advisory Board, please visit the Journal for Critical Animal Studies website:

http://journal.hamline.edu/index.php/jcas/index Journal for Critical Animal Studies, Volume 10, Issue 3, 2012 (ISSN1948-352X) JCAS Volume 10, Issue 3, 2012 EDITORIAL BOARD


ESSAYS From Beastly Perversions to the Zoological Closet: Animals, Nature, and Homosex Jovian Parry

Toward a Dark Animal Studies: On Vegetarian Vampires, Beautiful Souls, and Becoming- Vegan James Stanescu

A Queer Vegan Manifesto Rasmus Rahbek Simonsen

Operation Splash Back!: Queering Animal Liberation Through the Contributions of Neo-Insurrectionist Queers Michael Loadenthal


Strategies for Liberation Debra Erenberg

COMIC A Queer Approach to Speciesism Nathan Stephens Griffen


The Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) Reviewed by Jennifer Grubbs


Journal for Critical Animal Studies, Volume 10, Issue 3, 2012 (ISSN1948-352X)


Queering the que(e)ry of Speciesism It is inherently queer to disrupt the normative tropes of hierarchy that naturalize speciesism.

Or is it? How queer is critical animal studies? If speciesism is the normative ideology, then anti-speciesist thought functions as a queer act within academia. Although a great deal has been written on queer thought and critical animal studies, these discussions primarily exist in isolation from one another. Thus, we, as critical animal studies scholars, should ask ourselves how critical thought itself is intercepted, co-opted, re-appropriated, and constrained to fit within a single-politic agenda. Further, we must interrogate the ways in which we are alienated from our colleagues and insurrectionary comrades who contribute to queer thought.

The ability to collaborate between critical discourses and movements are impeded by the capital control of the Academy itself. Through a process of intellectual commodification, the ability to produce and consume critical thought is marked by privilege. The attributes used to demarcate critical thought from academic critical thought are marked by the capital value of thought itself. In the competition-driven neoliberal Academy, intellectual thought is constrained by a market-driven individualism.

The following issue advances the destabalization of species privilege within a discourse of queer thought. Each author interrupts hegemonic understandings of speciesism through a queer framework. This special issue of the journal provides a range of ways to think about the possibilities of a queer critical animal studies. The articles present intersectional praxis in a variety of ways; theoretical essays, a plenary address delivered at the Animal Rights 2011 National Conference in Los Angeles, a comic strip, and a film review. This issue attempts to queer academic understandings of praxis, and provide critical animal scholars the imaginary to envision an Academy not predicated on our commodified thought.

The Issue begins with four Essays. The first, "From Beastly Perversions to the Zoological Closet: Animals, Nature, and Homosex" is written by Jovian Parry. Parry examines the ways in which queer other-than-human animals are erased from scientific understandings of sexuality. He further argues that the homogenization of other-than-human animal sexuality into heteronormative pathologies is appropriated to naturalize human sexuality. Parry moves Journal for Critical Animal Studies, Volume 10, Issue 3, 2012 (ISSN1948-352X) the discussion of pathologized sexuality into a queer critique of anthropomorphic heterowashing.

The second essay, “Toward a Dark Animal Studies: On Vegetarian Vampires, Beautiful Souls, and Becoming- Vegan,” is written by James Stanescu. Stanescu integrates Dark Animal Studies into both queer thought and Critical Animal Studies (CAS). Stanescu utilizes Dark Animal Studies and the ways in which a queering of the human/vampire imaginary opens the possibilities of a CAS that challenges assumptions about rhetorical representations of ‘fringe’ cultures. There has been a surge in cinematic, literary, and television portrayals of vampiric and werewolf culture. Stanescu addresses the ways in which these representations challenge the discourse on vampnormativity in relation to the naturalization of speciesism. These challenges are evident in compulsory omnivorism and the rhetoric’s of mortality Rasmus Simonsen writes the third essay, A Queer Vegan Manifesto, and takes a closer look at the ways in which veganism is experienced. Simonsen examines the role of veganism in the process of identity (re)formation. Veganism, as a socio-cultural influence on identity, is influenced by intricacies of individual circumstance. Simonsen interrogates the ways in which veganism is constructed by subjectivities, and performed as an act of queer challenge to omnivore-normativity.

In the fourth essay, Operation Splash Back!: Queering Animal Liberation Through the Contributions of Neo-Insurrectionist Queers, Michael Loadenthal expands on the notion of normativity in relation to exclusionary politics within the queer liberation movement.

Loadenthal utilizes the framework of total liberation in relation to the anarchist queer insurrectionary network, Bash Back!. The rhetorical analysis of Bash Back! moves the discussion outside of the Academy. Loadenthal asserts that an anti-speciesist framework must be integrated into the political analyses widely advocated by queer anarchists Debra Erenberg’s "Strategies for Liberation" is published in the Strategy and Tactic section.

In this section, Debra Erenberg offers a historical trajectory of LGBTQ liberation movements throughout U.S. history. In her plenary address delivered at the Animal Rights 2011 National Conference in Los Angeles, Erenberg provides strategic insight into successful movement organizing. The assessment and overview of social movement organizing is astutely applied to the animal rights movement.

Journal for Critical Animal Studies, Volume 10, Issue 3, 2012 (ISSN1948-352X) The solitary contribution in the Comic section comes from Nathan Stevens-Griffin. The comic titled, “A Queer Approach to Speciesism,” utilizes a comic frame to queer the assumed (and privileged) method of expressing theory in written text. Through both content and form, the comic provides an accessible overview of how queer thought and CAS complement each other within a total liberation discourse.

In the Film Review section, I examine the film “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011) in relation to queering anthropocentric portrayals of liberation. The film, albeit a cinematized Hollywood rendering, captures the ideological tension within critical animal studies regarding anti-speciesist revolution. From the heroic Green Hill direct rescue in Italy to the cow named Cincinnati Freedom that hopped a slaughterhouse fence and resides at Farm Sanctuary, Watkins Glen, NY, animal liberations take many forms. Although the film portrays a primate-led uprising against systematized captivity, the anthropomorphized chimpanzee, Caesar, perpetuates speciesist logic. Caesar is only capable of leading the revolution in so far as he is manipulated through biotechnology and human enculturation. The revolution ultimately begins with Caesar’s defiant utterance, “NO.” Regardless of intention, the film manages to toggle multiple competing positions on what constitutes animal liberation.

This issue demonstrates a multitude of theoretically significant intersections between critical animal studies and queer thought. The authors utilize a variety of texts in order to apply an anti-speciesist analysis to hegemonic and compulsory anthropocentrism.

Jennifer D. Grubbs Guest Editor

–  –  –

ESSAYS From Beastly Perversions to the Zoological Closet: Animals, Nature, and Homosex Jovian Parry1 Abstract "Nature" in general, and nonhuman animals more specifically, have long constituted a fertile repository from which to construct normative and deviant discourses of human sexuality, as illustrated by still-damning condemnation of non-heterosexual behavior in humans as "unnatural". However the converse discourse - that nonheterosexual behavior is "beastly" has also long circulated. This essay explores this contradiction, arguing that, although nonhumans have long been implicated in the discursive construction of normative regimes of hetero-reproductivity, Classical and medieval thinkers retained an awareness of nonreproductive sexual behavior in other animals. It is in the modern period, with the rise of sexological discourses and the intensified exploitation of other animals under capitalism, that animal sexual diversity was most thoroughly closeted. I conclude by arguing against mobilizing the rhetoric of the "natural" in contemporary culture wars surrounding human sexuality, as such a strategy merely reinscribes new normative discourses of "natural" sexuality as well as reinforcing the theoretically untenable concept of culture-nature dualism.

Keywords Sexuality, animality, Hetero-reproductivity, non-reproductive sexuality Introduction A wealth of recent scholarship in cultural and literary studies and the social sciences is concerned with the myriad relations, both material and semiotic, between human and non- (or Jovian Parry earned his MA in Cultural Studies from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and is currently a doctoral student in Science and Technology Studies at York University, Toronto. His research interests include science fiction studies, gender studies, and critical animal studies. Jovian can be contacted at feralkindling@gmail.com.

–  –  –

other than-) human animals2. Social theorists such as Donna Haraway (2003, 2008), Giorgio Agamben (2004) and Jacques Derrida (2002) have argued that the human-animal divide, like so many other binary constructions before it (white/nonwhite, masculine/feminine, culture/nature, and straight/gay, to name a few) is historically and culturally nuanced, blurry and co-constructed rather than essential and fixed – in certain key ways, humans become humans through recourse to a discursively-constructed animal “other”. Ideas about gender

and sexuality feature prominently in the construction of the human in relation to the animal:

as biologist and historian of science Donna Haraway provocatively states in When Species Meet, “species reeks of race and sex” (2008: 18). Cultural theorist Jennifer Terry puts it another way: “Animals help us tell stories about ourselves, especially when it comes to matters of sexuality”, she writes (Terry, 2000: 151).

In considering how the sexual behavior of nonhuman animals becomes entangled in the stories we tell ourselves about our own sexual proclivities, “Nature” is a key and recurring term, and one with multiple, overlapping and historically contingent meanings. “Nature” and “the natural” have frequently been invoked throughout Western history 3 as denoting something essentially good and moral; to say something is “natural” is to naturalize it, to hoist it above the petty realm of social and political machinations and crystallize it as something inherently, unquestionably good (Barthes, 1973). When used in this moralizing sense, the distinctions between ‘normal’, ‘natural’ and ‘divine’ are frequently all but erased I have chosen to avoid using the term “animal” to denote “animals other than human animals”, in order to emphasize that Homo Sapiens is, in fact, an animal (not, as Mary Midgley rather puckishly points out, “a machine, a god, or a fairy” [1996[1979]: 14]), and also to problematize the anthropocentrism inherent in singling out one animal species (human) while lumping all others under a single signifier (animal) (see Dunayer, 2001; Nibert, 2002: xv). Henceforth, I will use the terms “other animals” or “nonhuman animals” (except in direct quotes or in instances when I am describing “the animal” as a figurative or symbolic socio-historical construct).

For reasons of space and clarity, I will confine my analysis and critique to what is commonly (though not unproblemtatically) known as Western history and Western societies.

Journal for Critical Animal Studies, Volume 10, Issue 3, 2012 (ISSN1948-352X) (Sturgeon, 2010: 107). To position a form of behavior in the category of “unnatural” can therefore stigmatize it as ungodly: hence it comes as little surprise that a even today a frequent recurrence in homophobic discourse is the allegation that homosexuality is “unnatural”. (In just one example of many, an Australian celebrity opponent of same-sex marriage recently characterized homosexuality as an “unnatural union” [qtd in Rothenberg, 2012]). Often this accusation has been made with recourse to the sexual behavior of nonhuman animals – animals don’t have sex with members of the same sex, the story goes, and therefore neither should humans – to do so would be to debase ourselves, to go “against nature” (Sturgeon, 2010: 107).

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