quarta-feira, 29 de julho de 2015

One struggle, one fight? What is “intersectional activism,” and how can we build solidarity between radical-emancipatory movements? Experiences from an animal rights group in Switzerland

by Livia Boscardin

Although it seems that ‘intersectionality’ or radical political analysis are in vogue in the animal liberation movement, in reality very little real work has been done to rectify past inadequacies or understand the complexities of social power.” This critical assessment of the current animal liberation movement by Justin Kay lately appeared in Resistance Ecology (Summer 2014, quote on p. 48). Kay, himself a long-standing activist, describes how in fact, the “total liberation” framework is often superficially applied as a sort of selfish “PR trick” to end the isolation of the animal liberation movement within the broader field of radical politics. Behind this “empty rhetoric,” solidarity is but an illusion, so Kay. Indeed, due to the oftentimes privileged social status of its adherents, among others, the animal liberation movement is suffering from myopia when it comes to societal hierarchies and power relationships.
How, then, can we overcome this deplorable state and act in sincere solidarity with other struggles for social and environmental justice? What does it mean to engage in animal rights activism that simultaneously addresses other, interlinked forms of domination, such as racism or sexism? In a nutshell: How does “intersectional activism” look like? While the theoretical acceptation of the (black feminist) concept of the intersectionality of oppression is growing, its practical application in grassroots organizing is still rarely to be found.
In this presentation, two examples of animal rights campaigns that try to merge the struggles for human and nonhuman liberation should be discussed. Both campaigns are undertaken by an animal rights group in Basel, Switzerland. The first is part of the international “Gateway to Hell” campaign to end the transport of nonhuman animals, so-called “lab animals,” to vivisection laboratories all over the world. Currently, the airline Air France-KLM is a primary target of the campaign. Yet, in addition, Air France-KLM is also the main company conducting deportation flights of illegalized immigrants in France as well as in the Netherlands. At their monthly protest at the French airport near Basel, the group thus combines its protests against these– oftentimes lethal – speciesist and racist transports.
The second campaign is a campaign against a planned mega-aquarium called “Ozeanium” by the town’s zoological garden. On the one hand, uncountable marine individuals are to be imprisoned in this new facility. On the other hand, the Ozeanium should increase the value of its future neighborhood – an outspoken goal of the capitalist city planning council. Here, the combat against nonhuman incarceration and exploitation is joined with local resistance against gentrification.
Next to discussing the successes and shortcomings of both ongoing campaigns, the goal of the talk is to critically self-reflect our positions and activism, to exchange experiences, and to challenge and inspire each other – in order to build a strong, self-critical animal liberation community and true allyship with other radical movements. One struggle, one fight!

Livia Boscardin is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Basel, Switzerland. Her work critically examines the nexus Animals and Sustainable Development by asking how nonhuman animals are considered in the concept and practice of sustainable development, and how the paradigm of green capitalism/green growth is creating new forms of oppression in the nonhuman and human world. Livia’s interests include critical animal studies, sustainable development/ degrowth, Critical Theory, ecofeminism, and intersectionality, and militant research. She was the coordinative assistant of the doctoral program “Law and Animals: Ethics at Crossroads” of the University of Basel and she spent the Spring term of 2015 as a visiting scholar at the Animal Studies Initiative, NYU. In Basel, she’s primarily engaged in animal rights, prisoner support, and antifascist collectives. The animal rights group Basel (see www.tierrechtsgruppe-bs.ch and https://www.facebook.com/trgbasel) takes part in the Gateway to Hell campaign (http://www.gatewaytohell.net/) since winter 2012, and initiated the campaign against the Ozeanium in spring 2014 (see http://ozeaniumdrbachab.noblogs.org/) 

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