Impossible Ethics: Race, Species, and Dangerous Crossings


Impossible Ethics: Race, Species, and Dangerous Crossings.

Featuring leading voices in the study of Politics & Animals:

-Closing keynote talk by Claire Jean Kim, Professor of Asian American Studies and Political Science at UC Irvine and author of Dangerous Crossings: Race, Species, and Nature in a Multicultural Age (Cambridge UP).

-Talk by Kendra Coulter, Associate Professor of Labour Studies and Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence at Brock University and author of Animals, Work, and the Promise of Interspecies Solidarity (Palgrave).

-Talk by Drew Robert Winter, a pivotal organizer of the International Critical Animal Studies community and a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at Rice University.

Talk information:

Murder and Mattering in Harambe’s House (Claire Jean Kim, UC Irvine)

This talk approaches the controversy over the killing of the gorilla Harambe in the Cincinnati Zoo in May 2016 as a unique window onto the making of animalness and blackness in the contemporary U.S.  The construction of the “human” in relation to both the “animal” and the “black” is explored.


Practicing Impossible Things, or, When Pigs Fly:  The Theory and Praxis of Intra- and Interspecies Solidarity and Humane Jobs (Kendra Coulter, Brock University)

Labour involving animals is among the most complex yet significant multispecies arenas, and worthy of sustained and careful attention from scholars and advocates. Widespread and severe forms of physical, psychological, emotional, and intergenerational animal suffering result from the for-profit industries using other species, which are, of course, also places of work for human beings. Indeed, our interactions with these industries (and their myriad effects) both reflect and reproduce many historical, contemporary, and lived inequities and privileges, and expose challenging although perhaps not insurmountable barriers to more just sociocultural relations and political economic futures. In this paper, I first interrogate the tensions of human-animal labour politics, and particularly their hegemonic and myopic or anthropocentrically multi-optic (to enlist and build from Claire Jean Kim’s analysis) emphases. I then propose potential gateways or pathways for traversing into new intellectual and political terrain through concepts such as intra- and interspecies solidarity and humane jobs.

The relationship between the political Left and animal liberation in Denmark and the United States (Drew Winter, Rice University)

This talk examines the ideological contours of and rifts between animal rights activists and the wider political left wing within the United States and Denmark, focusing on specific rhetorical strategies of disavowal by American socialists, and the cooperative—yet still partial and tense—relationship between animal advocates and the left in Copenhagen, Denmark. Based on 14 months of fieldwork in Denmark, and 12 years of experience in organizing and advocacy in both animal liberation and left wing circles in the United States, this analysis combines ethnography and social media archives to critically examine the question of politics beyond the human on the political left.

Impossible Ethics Flyer 1 4 (2)