Due: 1 December 2020
Editors: Yamini Narayanan (Deakin University) and Kathryn Gillespie (University of Kentucky)
Intimate forms of connection and care are ubiquitous in multispecies relationships, and they become legitimate forms of knowledge in fleeting moments of encounter as well as in the course of lifetimes lived together care-fully. This edited collection centers these latter forms of intimacy within a particular context: shared lives of care and rehabilitation that unfold after individuals of other species have been liberated from conditions of normalized and widely accepted forms of harm and violence – for instance, fugitives from farms, slaughterhouses, laboratories, global trade networks, and sites of extermination and expulsion. Intimacy offers multiple possibilities for knowledge-making; being in, and through intimate relationships of care, we come to know the lasting impacts of the harm other animals are subjected to within dominant structures of capitalism, colonialism, and anthropocentrism. These are ways of knowing that are not necessarily possible in contexts where a researcher drops into a field site to try to understand the multispecies dynamics unfolding there, or when animals are studied in contexts where their use and exploitation is taken for granted and normalized. Rather, these intimate relationships of care manifest new ways of knowing other species – outside of and beyond logics of commodification, instrumentalization, exploitation, and eradication – to bring into being-worlds. As such, in this collection, we aim to disrupt and reconfigure the kinds of knowledges that are possible through theorizing intimate stories of knowing animals differently.
Feminist geographers articulate the importance of an intentional focus on intimacy as a way of knowing and being in the world—what it means in our lives and work, how it arises or is mobilized in practice, and why intimacy should be taken seriously in feminist and in other fields of scholarship and knowledge-making (Moss and Donovan 2017). Feminists have worried about the appropriation of intimacy in stigmatizing women’s labor (such as sex work or surrogacy) (Lewis 2017), but also focused on its potential for radical reform and transformation of oppression (Wiegman 2010). Attention to multispecies intimacy likewise offers an opportunity to illuminate the intellectual and political potential for advocacy and change in multispecies relationships. Inspired by Wiegman’s (2010, 83) conceptualization of “knowledge practices as forms of intimacy,” we are interested in the new ways of knowing and knowledge-making in and past the point of rupture, wherein individual animals, liberated from sites and relations of exploitation and abstraction, find themselves in relations and sites of recognition and care.
Our project articulates with multispecies studies that aims to understand the fraught particularities of living and dying in the ruins of capitalism and colonialism (e.g., Kirksey 2014; Tsing 2015; van Dooren 2019); what it means to be entangled in relationships of love care and responsibility in a time of mass extinction and death (e.g., ParrenÞas 2018; Rose 2012); and how companion species are sites of uneasiness, kinship, violence, and vulnerability within these webs of relation (Dayan 2016; Haraway 2008). As Wadiwel (2018, 540) reminds us, it is “difficult to disentangle the ethics of these encounters,” particularly those embedded in capitalism, without “glossing over” the central relations of human domination in animal production. Much analysis on multispecies entanglements convey “something important about the world [but] they do not capture everything” (Giraud 2019, 2-3). In order to generate meaningful change for these animals, politicizing the “frictions, foreclosures, and exclusions” that determine the lived realities of these animals is critical (ibid). Activist and feminist labor of care become crucial in unveiling a fuller account of animal lives, and human-animal relatedness itself.
Thus in this edited volume, we specifically attend to the deeply politicized forms of multispecies intimacy that explicitly and actively reject the use and exploitation of animals through mutual practices of care in lives lived intimately in relation. Caring for and with individual animals, and taking a position that wholly rejects the persistent forms of violence to which other species are subjected, not only disrupts the violating categorizations of species, but also engenders the possibility of other worlds and forms of knowledge-making. Tsing calls for an attention to “multispecies love,” a kind of “passionate immersion in the lives of [nonhuman others]” (Tsing 2011, 12). These relationships wrought in the wake of liberation from sites of exploitation, in fact, render possibilities for this kind of multispecies love that situates “care as a form of making and living in worlds of and for kin” (Desai and Smith 2018, 44).
One site where we see these transformative relationships of care and kinship unfolding is in the context of microsanctuaries.Microsanctuaries are sometimes focused on commonly farmed species, like chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigs, goats, sheep, and even cows, but also animals used in other sites of animal exploitation, such as rats, mice, fishes, ferrets, insects, and amphibians, to name only a few (MRC 2020a). A microsanctuary can comprise as few as just one rescued animal and onehuman carer. A core principle of the Microsanctuary Resource Center (a founding organization for the microsanctuary movement) is that, “our space and our resources, no matter how limited, often are still sufficient for us to provide sanctuary to individual animals RIGHT NOW in order to prevent them from ever again being used as commodities” (MRC 2020b, n.p.). An explicit vegan and anti-anthropocentric politics of care underpins the intimate care and political work that is performed in a microsanctuary.
What is the political function of such care in radically transforming human relations with these species? How can the radical potential of the home as a kind of microsanctuary – variously, normatively, even insidiously located in mainstream social geographies such as urban residences, suburban backyards, small shops and offices, and apartments, actively provide a counter to the commodified, superfluous, and expendable perception of these animals? How are personal encounters and relationships with individual or communities of animals shaped or influenced by the diversity of communities/microsanctuaries, and the broader political economic, and geographic contexts where they unfold? What lives and experiences make up the content and practice of intimate care and relationalities in these spaces that politicize these lives and experiences (e.g., human and nonhuman kin, veterinarians, extended multispecies communities)?
We recognize that intimate multispecies relationships can be characterized by ambivalent forms of care and control. Especially in contexts not explicitly attentive to undoing normative ideas about the subordinate positioning of nonhuman animals in society, human-animal relations in the home are sometimes (often?) rife with hierarchical relationships of care embedded with power, control, and dominance (Tuan 1984). Human caregivers are in the position of making decisions about animals in their care – from those surrounding restrictions on reproductive freedom, to what kinds of food or companionship are made available, to where and in what capacity they are allowed to move (Donaldson and Kymlicka 2015; jones 2014). The fraught nature of this decision-making is made to feel less problematic when adult animals are infantilized, thought of as ‘children’ or ‘fur babies’, and thus more easily made subjects of paternalistic power relations and decision-making (jones 2018; Rising 2016).
With these concerns in mind, we ask authors to “reflect critically on their desires for intimacy and to be aware of how those desires are utilized within power relations” (Morgensen 2013, 71). How best might the vulnerabilities of those kin, who might also be understood as interlocutors or research subjects, be protected, by being maximally attentive to their knowing practices, andchange possibilities for what and how we know? How might we imagine transformative ways of knowing with those with whom we might live in close relation but for whom intimacy is an impossibility? There is also much we cannot know across species and across bodies about the inner worlds and depths of someone with whom we live intimately; therefore, we are mindful of the “persistence and importance of difference even in the most intimate interspecies relationships” (Govindrajan 2018, 136). We acknowledge the ongoing possibilities for oppressive social relations embedded in intimate relationships of care, and are committed to exploring multispecies forms of relationality where radically different forms of sociality are unfolding – ones that insist on transforming and refusing oppression, violence, and anthropocentrism.
How may the blurring of categories between ‘human researcher’ and ‘animal subject’ (persistent in hegemonic research methodologies) re-theorize and re-politicize knowledge, or systems of social and political oppression of these (and other) species? How can close relationships with an individual hen liberated from an egg farm, a monkey diverted from the ‘exotic pet’ circuit, or a pig escaped from a truck destined to slaughter help us envisage alternative ways of being in a multispecies world altogether? How might they offer opportunities for thinking across different forms of embodiment, emotional engagement, and lived experiences? These relations of care are also hardly one-way (i.e., a human caring for an animal). The complex webs of emotional interdependence, embodiment, and attachment between humans and other animals, and the care, joy, and heartbreak that may be involved in caring for and with these animals, can likewise characterize humans’ experience of being recognized, loved, and indeed, also ‘rescued’ by them. What can we learn from intimate accounts of reciprocity, interpersonal conflict, grief, and human betrayal, as well as love, trust, and care in relations with other animals? What forms of knowledge emerge if we recognize those animals who are further along in their lifecourse than we ourselves are as elders who possess the cumulative wisdom that comes with age and life experience (jones 2018)? Above all, how might intimate ways of knowing help to envision more radically caring futures for humans, animals, and the environment?
Our aim in this edited book is to understand how both human and animal personal experiences – emerging from shared lives – can be instructive for intimate multispecies ways of knowing. We understand these intimate ways of knowing as a storytelling practice, and so we are interested in short reflective essays of approximately 4,000 words that illuminate ways of knowing with and about other species in intimate contexts, rather than exclusively theoretical/heavily theorized works.
To be considered for inclusion in this edited volume, please submit in the first instance a 250-word abstract, a tentative title, and 100-word bio to both Katie Gillespie (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Yamini Narayanan (email@example.com) for consideration by 1 December 2020.
Dayan, Colin. 2016. With Dogs at the Edge of Life. Columbia University Press.
Desai, Shruti, and Smith, Harriet. 2018. “Kinship Across Species: Learning to Care for
Nonhuman Others.” Feminist Review 118 (1). 41–60.
Donaldson, Sue, and Will Kymlicka. 2015. “Farmed Animal Sanctuaries: The Heart of the Movement? A Socio-political Perspective.” Politics and Animals 1, 50–74.
Giraud, Eva Haifa. 2019. What Comes after Entanglement? Activism, Anthropocentrism, and an Ethics of Exclusion. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Govindrajan, Radhika. 2018. Animal Intimacies: Interspecies Relatedness in India’s Central Himalayas. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kirksey, Eben, ed. 2014. The Multispecies Salon. North Carolina: Duke University Press.
Lewis, Sophie. 2017. “Defending Intimacy against What? Limits of Antisurrogacy Feminisms.” Signs 43 (1): 97-125.
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Microsanctuary Resource Center (MRC). 2020b. “Core Principles.” Accessed October 14, 2020. https://microsanctuary.org/core-principles/.
Morgensen, Scott Lauria. 2013. “Reflection: Fearlessly Engaging Complicity.” InFeminist Activist Ethnography: Counterpoints to Neoliberalism in North America, edited by Christa Craven & Dána-Ain Davis, 69-74. Lexington Books.
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ParrenÞas, Juno Salazar. 2018. Decolonizing Extinction: the Work of Care in Orangutan Rehabilitation. Durham: Duke University Press.
Rose, Deborah Bird. 2012. Wild Dog Dreaming. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.
Rising, Dallas. 2016. “Good Boys and Sweet Girls,” VINE Sanctuary News, March 23. Accessed October 14, 2020. http://blog.bravebirds.org/archives/3009.
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van Dooren, Thom. 2019. The Wake of Crows: Living and Dying in Shared Worlds. New York: Columbia University Press.
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