quarta-feira, 29 de julho de 2015

Total liberation or animal rights only? Intersectionality in the agenda and composition of the AR movement in the Baltic States through narratives of AR activists

by Kadri Aavik & Kristina Mering

As an increasingly important topic of internal debate in the European animal rights (AR) movement in recent years, the question of whether the movement should focus narrowly on animal-related issues or take on an approach of total liberation, which includes engagement with various kinds of social justice issues, has emerged. Despite on-going debates, the rise of many organisations focused solely on AR can be observed all over Europe. The choice of approach in terms of intersectionality, as well as the composition of the movement itself, with respect to the inclusion of differently positioned individuals, has important implications for the influence and spread of the AR movement as well as its possibility to contribute to a wider social justice agenda.
This presentation deals with intersectional exclusions and inclusions of the AR movement, based on the example of the AR movement in the Baltic States as a new social movement. While having emerged only in the early 2000s, it has become rather visible and vocal in the region. More particularly, we focus on two related issues. First, we pay attention to the composition of the movement itself, exploring ways in which AR activists understand the movement as exclusive or inclusive regarding the participation of differently positioned individuals in terms of ethnicity/race, class, gender and other relevant socially constructed categories. Second, we take a look at the activists’ framing of the movement’s as well as organisational agendas in terms of conceptualising and challenging oppressions intersectionally, including coalition building with other social movements.
Our analysis draws on interviews with AR activists based in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. While we explore these issues through individual narratives, we distinguish personal and organisational agendas, as well as theoretical and practical levels in the framing of these issues, and attend to possible contradictions between these. In our analysis, we pay particular attention to the social and political context of post-Soviet Europe, which has implications for the choice of agenda and coalition building for the AR movement in this region.
With this research, we aim to contribute to debates on the agenda setting of the AR movement, in terms of total liberation vs. specific focus on animal rights, and possible coalition-building with other social movements. Insights provided by this research might help to think of intersectional inclusions/exclusions and alliance politics of the AR movement also in other geographical areas and socio-political contexts.

Kadri Aavik is a PhD student and lecturer in sociology at the Institute of International and Social Studies in Tallinn University, Estonia. Her PhD project focuses on gender and ethnic inequalities in the Estonian labour market, which she studies using an intersectional approach. She is active in the Estonian animal rights and vegan movements and interested in introducing the perspectives of critical animal studies into academic research in the post-socialist space. Kadri’s particular research interests in CAS are related to feminism, intersectionality and animals.
Contact: kadria@tlu.ee

Kristina Mering is a student of sociology at the Institute of International and Social Studies in Tallinn University, Estonia. She has conducted a research project exploring how slaughterhouse workers rationalise their work, and has presented this research in international animal rights conferences. Kristina is a long time animal rights activist who is presently working in the Estonian animal advocacy organisation Loomus.
Contact: kristina@loomus.ee

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