Covid as a reckoning for animal advocacy: Addressing the illegitimacy of critical animal perspectives and laying the groundwork for future ‘pivotal moments’

Research output: Contribution to conferenceSpeech

Abstract

Major organisations and experts have described this period of concurrent climate, environmental, and health emergencies as a ‘pivotal moment’ for changing how humans interact with other animals and nature. However, this moment is falling short of its potential because the advocacy movement, and more especially the critical animal perspectives it espouses, lack legitimacy. As Covid-19 emerged, humankind’s treatment of animals (as opposed to methods of treatment) was questioned in some mainstream media. Almost a year later, such perspectives have largely disappeared with concerns focused primarily on industrialised animal agriculture. A critical focus on human-animal relations has been neither coherent nor sustained. Furthermore, despite the ‘vegan revolution’, per capita consumption of meat from pigs and chickens increased annually in the UK and the US from 2000 to 2019. Drawing on an analysis of mainstream and advocacy discourses during Covid, and a review of 45 ‘pro-vegan’ documentaries, I examine the role of the animal advocacy movement in the lack of meaningful progress for animals. Key findings include: 1. the movement is dominated by a fragmentary approach that elides interconnections between animal uses, 2. aggregate physical suffering is prioritized over other techniques of oppression, and 3. animals’ value is not inherent but relies on utilitarian promises. Above all, the movement lacks a collective action frame capable of uniting and transcending the heterogeneous landscape of animal advocacy. In response, I propose Animal Oppression as a new master frame that is flexible, inclusive, and resonates across all movements fighting the oppression of marginalized others.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2021
EventEACAS 2021: Appraising Critical Animal Studies - Online (virtual), Ormskrirk, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Jun 202125 Jun 2021
https://sites.edgehill.ac.uk/cfhas/eacas-2021/

Conference

ConferenceEACAS 2021: Appraising Critical Animal Studies
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityOrmskrirk
Period24/06/2125/06/21
Internet address

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Animals

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