terça-feira, 28 de julho de 2015

Taking Stock of the Scholarly ‘Animal Turn’: An exploration of the innovative, politicised and tainted nature of human-animal scholarship

by Rhoda Wilkie

Scholars are increasingly exploring and critically evaluating people’s longstanding and on-going interconnections with other animals in modern industrialised societies. This interspecies focus signals the ‘animal turn’ taking place in the academy, especially in more human-orientated social science disciplines, such as sociology, albeit to varying degrees. The ‘creative marginality’ associated with, and the upsurge of research generated by, this scholarly turn towards other animals effectively fuelled the growth of Human-Animal Studies (HAS), an innovative, interdisciplinary and politically eclectic field of scholarship. On the one hand, this highly productive phase of formative intellectual labour was pivotal to creating the infrastructure to consolidate and legitimate this rather tainted area of study within the academy. On the other hand, just as this human-animal field is becoming established, the broad alliance that seemingly enabled these pioneering scholars to work together is showing signs of fragmenting. Since there are some within the next generation of human-animal scholars who are advocating a more politicised and transformative agenda, as evidenced by the meteoric rise of Critical Animal Studies (CAS) in recent years, it is suggested that this development has sparked an internal debate within HAS about activist-scholars and what might count as ‘good’ and bad’ scholarship. One way of exploring these emerging debates within HAS is to consider the division of scholarly labour within this atypical social science field, and how this may require scholars to perform different types of ‘academic dirty work’.


Rhoda Wilkie is a lecturer in sociology at the University of Aberdeen, where she earned her doctorate in 2002. She is the co-editor (with David Inglis) of the five-volume collection, Animals and Society: Critical Concepts in the Social Sciences and the author of Livestock/Deadstock: Working with Farm Animals from Birth to Slaughter.


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