Friday, January 23, 2009

Best feminist animal studies essays?

This is a time sensitive question, I sort of need answers by the end of this weekend:

What are the best essays/interviews to introduce feminist animal studies to people?
These articles should be able to be found either online in some way, or to be found in academic journals like Signs or Hypatia.


Being-against Heidegger

First of all, I should have posted responses to everyone's comments. If I missed anything, just post again. Thanks as always.

In other news, I seem to be the last person to notice that Graham Harman now has a blog, and he's been blogging like a madperson, . Regardless, he has had two posts that I have found interesting. First, he has a post on authors we don't like, and he means authors we seriously don't like. But in an earlier post, he had a hilarious and I think on point view of heideggerians:
Imagine that you spent your formative years in a specific church. You were always critical of it, but valued its insights highly. You were never especially welcome there, but also not rudely unwelcome. And then gradually you realized that everyone was not just reading the Scripture, but also sipping a bit of the Kool-Aid every Sunday, and that you were tacitly expected to do the same. Worse yet, you’d often overhear the other church members saying: “These people are crazy! I’m the only sane person in this church.” That’s sort of what Heideggerianism can be like, and I’m not sad to have little to do with it anymore.

What this makes me think of is how important being-against Heidegger has been for my philosophical trajectory. And, perhaps, the longest running philosophical relationship. Longer than my obsession with Deleuze (who is still important for me, but not as important), more staying than my distaste for Derrida, definitively more powerful than my original distrust of Agamben. Heck, second-wave feminism doesn't get as under my skin as it used to, but Heidegger still does. Many of these seem comical in retrospect, but what I have never paid a lot of thought is why is Heidegger so exceptional to me?

Well, part of it is clearly that Heidegger is a serious and true thinker. If he wasn't so obviously important, than being-against wouldn't matter so much. Ultimately, though, it's not a particular thought here or there that bothers me, it is an entire way of being a philosopher. I feel that it is there that Heidegger's fascism is its most apparent. And like all fascism, it is seductive. So, either philosophy is somehow anti-democratic (that is, against the power of the demos), or philosophy is in service of democracy. Either philosophy is seen as something that builds up states, lays down roots, and is a heroic vanguard. Or philosophy is seen as resolutely non-vanguardist, something that intensifies the power of the demos, something that is radicalized by the demos as it radicalizes the world. But there is something so seductive about being a hero, about being an authority, about being an experimenter (versuch and versuchung). Hence, the pyrrhic dance with Heidegger.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

CFP: Resistances: Technologies and Relationalities 19th Annual PIC Conference

Resistances: Technologies and Relationalities

The 19th Annual Philosophy, Interpretation and Culture (PIC) Conference

April 17-18, 2009

Binghamton University – Binghamton, NY

This conference seeks to explore the interconnectedness of technology, relationality and practices of resistance. We conceptualize technology broadly, as referring to systems, methods of organization, visual/imaging techniques, and political strategies and tactics, as well as to specific material objects and systems of objects – tools, commodities, bodies. We seek papers which explore the polyvalent deployments of technologies in both reproducing extant systems of power relations and their attendant practices of subjectification, as well as their role in fashioning resistant subjects, practices, and communities. We understand these processes and poïetic productions as thoroughly embedded, in terms of both historical contingency and geopolitical location.

Relationality is the cloth of subjectification processes. It is real and imagined, and inextricably linked to the production of subjects and technologies in both oppressive and resistant logics across different geopolitical locales. This conference also aims at igniting discussion and debate on the contrasting logics of resistance as they are enacted from disparate geopolitical positionalities.

In keeping with the interdisciplinary emphasis of Binghamton University's Program in Philosophy, Interpretation and Culture, we seek work that flourishes in the conjunction of multiple frames of epistemological inquiry, from fields including, but not limited to: postcolonial studies, decolonial studies, queer and gender studies, ethnic studies, media and visual culture studies, urban studies, science and technology studies, critical theory, continental philosophy, and historiography. Workers/writers/thinkers of all different disciplinary, inter-disciplinary, and non-disciplinary stripes welcome, whether academically affiliated or not. Submissions may be textual, performative, visual.

Submission Guidelines

Submission deadline: January 31, 2009.

Please submit a 300-500 word abstract along with a cover letter that includes your name, academic affiliation, contact numbers, complete mailing address, and e-mail address, as well as information regarding any technological equipment you may need for your presentation. Papers will be considered for a 20 minute presentation, followed by discussion, so please limit the length of paper to 10-12 pages.

Email address for inquiries and electronic submission of abstracts:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Arne Naess, RIP

January 15, 2009
Arne Naess, Norwegian Philosopher, Dies at 96

Arne Naess, a Norwegian philosopher whose ideas about promoting an intimate and all-embracing relationship between the earth and the human species inspired environmentalists and Green political activists around the world, died Monday. He was 96.

His editor, Erling Kagge, confirmed his death to Agence France-Presse.

In the early 1970s, after three decades teaching philosophy at the University of Oslo, Mr. Naess (pronounced Ness), an enthusiastic mountain climber and an admirer of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” threw himself into environmental work and developed a theory that he called deep ecology. Its central tenet is the belief that all living beings have their own value and therefore, as Mr. Naess once put it, “need protection against the destruction of billions of humans.”

Deep ecology, which called for population reduction, soft technology and non-interference in the natural world, was eagerly taken up by environmentalists impatient with shallow ecology — another of Mr. Naess’s coinages — which did not confront technology and economic growth.

It formed part of a broader personal philosophy that Mr. Naess called ecosophy T, “a philosophy of ecological harmony or equilibrium” that human beings can comprehend by expanding their narrow concept of self to embrace the entire planetary ecosystem. The term fused “ecological” and “philosophy.” The T stood for Tvergastein, his name for the mountain cabin he built in 1937 in southern Norway, where he often wrote.

Arne Dekke Eide Naess was born in Slemdal, near Oslo, in 1912. His older brother was the shipping tycoon Erling Naess, who died in 1993. After earning a degree from the University of Oslo in 1933 Arne Naess continued his education in Paris and in Vienna, where he became part of the Vienna Circle, a philosophical school dedicated to empiricism and logical analysis. In the belief that philosophers should be self-aware, he also underwent psychoanalysis.

After completing “Knowledge and Scientific Behavior,” his dissertation, in German, he was given a teaching position at the University of Oslo, where, as Norway’s only professor of philosophy until 1954, he was the animating figure in the Oslo School. Working in teams, the Oslo School’s adherents used questionnaires to investigate the meanings that ordinary people assigned to terms like “truth,” “free enterprise” and “democracy.” In 1958 he founded the journal Inquiry.

Over his career, Mr. Naess progressed from a radical empiricism to pluralism and skepticism. In his many publications, he took on a wide variety of philosophical problems. Harold Glasser, the editor of “The Selected Works of Arne Naess” (2005), has called him “the philosophical equivalent of a hunter-gatherer.” He was interested in language, meaning and communication, a subject he wrote about in “Interpretation and Preciseness” (1953) and “Communication and Argument” (1966), and in the relationship between reason and feeling. He also wrote books on two thinkers central to his worldview, Spinoza and Gandhi.

In 1969 Mr. Naess left the university to develop his ecological ideas, which, he believed, demanded political action. With other environmentalists, he chained himself to rocks in front of the Mardal waterfall, successfully pressing the Norwegian government to abandon plans for a dam on the fjord that feeds the falls. He also wrote extensively on the ethics of mountaineering, a field in which he had considerable expertise. In 1950 he led the first expedition to climb Tirich Mir, a 25,000-foot peak in the Hindu Kush in Pakistan.

His ideas on ecology and ecosophy were developed in numerous books and articles, notably “Freedom, Emotion and Self-Subsistence” (1975), “Ecology, Community and Lifestyle” (1989) and “Life’s Philosophy: Reason and Feeling in a Deeper World” (2002).

Surveying the continuing destruction of the environment, Mr. Naess was pessimistic about the 21st century but optimistic about the 23rd. By then, he predicted, population control would show results, technology would be noninvasive and children would grow up in a natural environment. At that point, he said, “we are back in the direction of paradise.”

A personal note: I haven't read much of Naess since early undergrad. But his work, which I stumbled across because of policy debate in high school, were highly influential to me at the time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

CFP: Critical Food Studies

Call for Papers
Food, Culture and the Environment: Communicating About What We Eat
Call for manuscripts for special issue of
Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture
Volume #4, Issue #2 (2010)
Co-Editors: Andy Opel, Florida State University; Jose? Johnston, University
of Toronto;
Richard Wilk, Indiana University
Every day, humans literally eat the world. Our most intimate, daily contact
with the natural world comes in the form of the food we eat and the liquids
we drink. The environmental, political, and social implications of our food
choices ripple across the planet, shaping ecosystems, our bodies and the
actual genetic structure of plants and animals. In recent years, discourses
have emerged that renew our attention to food as a site of cultural struggle
where language, power and politics influence what we eat and how we eat it.
Labels such as ?natural,? ?organic,? ?free-range,? and ?cruelty-free? direct
our attention back to the food production process, reconnecting us to the
environmental and industrial systems that produce and distribute our food.
>From the ?slow food? movement to concepts such as the locavore, food miles,
low-carbon diet, edible schoolyard and community supported agriculture, food
is attaining new levels of public awareness in-part through new discursive
formations. Global grassroots activists and authors such as Michael Pollan,
Marion Nestle, Carlo Petrini, Wendell Berry and Vandana Shiva have been
unpacking the political and cultural dimensions of our food choices, serving
up a buffet of issues and debates in need of scholarly attention.
We invite researchers worldwide who are working in the topic area of food
and culture to submit manuscripts that analyze the meanings of food in the
discourses of the media, commercial culture, social movements, and public
policy. How is language used to reveal and/or elide food production
processes? What are the popular images of food, how are they produced and
what do they tell us about our farms, our diets and our politics? How is
food being used to advance environmental agendas? What do food labels tell
us about the food we eat? What are the social justice components of our food
and how are these connected to environmental justice? How are grassroots
movements responding to corporate food production and distribution? These
are examples of the questions that may be addressed in this special issue of
Environmental Communication.
We seek manuscripts that analyze language, media representations, historical
contexts, material and economic conditions, institutional settings,
political initiatives, practices of resistance, and/or the theoretical
significance of discursive formations surrounding food. All methodologies
are appreciated and welcomed. Essays will be selected to be academically
sound, intellectually innovative, and conceptually relevant to communication
about food.
Manuscripts should be formatted in Microsoft Word in a PC-compatible version
(Mac users, please utilize the most current versions of Word and end your
file names in ?.doc?) and submitted electronically as attachments. E-mail
messages to which manuscripts are attached should contain all authors? name
and affiliations. They should indicate a corresponding author, and include
name, affiliation, e-mail address, postal address, and voice and fax
telephone numbers for that person. Manuscripts should include an abstract of
150 words or less, including a list of five suggested key words. Manuscripts
should be prepared in 12-point font, should be double-spaced throughout, and
should not exceed 8,000 words including references. The journal adheres to
APA Style. Manuscripts must not be under review elsewhere or have appeared
in any other published form. Upon notification of acceptance, authors must
assign copyright to Taylor and Francis and provide copyright clearance for
any copyrighted material. For further details on manuscript submission,
please refer to the ?Instructions for authors? on the journal?s website.
The journal is published in English, and manuscripts must be submitted in
English. Please see the journal website
( for manuscript
guidelines. Manuscripts should be emailed to by August 31,
Please disseminate this CFP to any colleagues that might be interested.
Andy Opel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Media Production Area Head
Department of Communication
Florida State University
PO Box 3062664
University Center Bldg C
Tallahassee, FL 32306-2664
(W): 850-644-8768
(C): 850-322-3349

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Obama appoints an animal rights scholar to his administration

Cass R. Sunstein has been asked to be Obama's head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. You can read more at this link. Now, what that articles doesn't say, and that what most articles probably won't say, is that Sunstein has a history as an animal rights legal scholar. While not particularly philosophical in the articles I have read by him, he has a strong pragmatic mind for extending and, even more importantly, enforcing animal welfare laws.

If you are interested in more about what this obscure office is for, check out Ezra Klein's blog post here. I could talk a bit about Sustein's theories of cost-benefit analysis and how they would clearly play a role in his new job, but that is not what the five of you that check this blog come here to read.

Anyway, I think this could be a very interesting development.

If you are interested in reading stuff about Sunstein on animal rights, I might start this article, The Rights of Animals: A Very Short Primer. He is also co-editor, with Martha Nussbaum of this book entitled simply Animal Rights.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What would you teach?

Technically this post still falls under the rule of vacation, which for me will not end (as this blog is concerned) until January ends. So, today I had reason to go hang out at the campus of my undergrad (Oglethorpe University in Atlanta). A lot has changed (for example, the dorm I lived in was abolished, not a single member of the philosophy department is the same, and the entire library staff has changed), but whenever I think about Oglethorpe, I think about what it would be like to teach there. As some of you know, Oglethorpe has a thorough core program that all students take that is somewhat like a great books program. All professors are expected to teach a section of one of the cores, and I always thought I would teach the sophomore core, "Human Nature and the Social Order." Now, each semester has certain texts a professor is expected to cover to some degree, and then each professors add or change them within that framework. The reality is, the course has all the pleasures and problems of canon. Books strung together in a certain preformed idea of how works relate, minority voices either ignored or tokenized (So, in the first year core, Narratives of the Self, after a whole year of reading european men, they throw in Toni Morrison's Beloved at the end. Now of course, that is a great book. But one of the things I will always remember is talking with a friend of mine about how we wish we could read Alice Walker in core. Some professor, overhearing this conversation, stated, "You know you read Toni Morrison, right?" And of course, that is one of the great problems of tokenization. A refusal to engage a writer on his or her own terms, but rather demands that the writer speak for all of his or her social identity. All of them, the other. In the whitewash of faux multiculturalism Toni Morrison becomes Alice Walker, and the rod of the canon just keeps beating us over the head). So you can all play the same mental game as I, I will tell you what books you are expected to cover with a sophomore (remember that) class of students from all disciplines. What would you add? Throw in as many minority voices as possible? A few and hope to avoid tokenization? Just go with the canon? Well, tell me what you would teach (and remember, you can do just selections of all of these texts, so feel free to be as specific or general as you want).

Human Nature and the Social Order I: Aristotle's Politics, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Aquinas from On Law, Morality, and Politics, and lastly Locke's Second Treatise.

Human Nature and the Social Order II: Smith's Wealth of Nations, Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto, Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, and Durkheim's Suicide.

OK, go.