Animals as Victims

Image from an Egyptian manuscript of Kalīlah wa-Dimnah by Ibn al-Muqaffaʻ (ca. 1310)

Animals as Victims

Carlo Salzani and Zipporah Weisberg

Given the systemic atrocities to which humans subject animals, it is hardly surprising that much of animal scholarship (and advocacy) has focused on outlining the ways in which animals are victimized and suffer at human hands. Another stream of scholarship, however, has expressed legitimate concern about the inadvertent reification of animals as victims. This has led some scholars to highlight animal agency, animal subjectivity and animal voices, and animal resistance.[1] Other scholars go further (and, we would argue, too far) by suggesting that animals are willing participants in practices that harm them, such as animal research.[2] The development of animal law has complicated the debate even more, with many animal advocates relying on the offender/victim paradigm to defend animals in the criminal justice system[3] and others challenging this approach for both moral and strategic reasons.[4] In exploring these and other perspectives on animal victimhood, we hope to tease out the tensions within and among them, thereby demonstrating the need for a nuanced approach.

The law victimizes animals in two ways: by allowing violence against them and by denying their legal standing. In the vast majority of Western legal frameworks, animals are considered property. As property, they have no legal standing and cannot be regarded as victims of injustice under the law, which paves the way for yet further victimization and injustice. By refusing to grant animals proper legal status, representation, and protection, and by thus foreclosing any meaningful legal redress for offences against them, the law subjects animals to what Andrew Ireland Moore calls “secondary victimization.”[5]

While it is important to be aware of animals’ dual victimization, the “victimhood narrative” produces little meaningful change, not least because the vast majority of violent practices to which animals are subjected is explicitly sanctioned by the law. As Lesli Bisgould and Will Kymlicka, among others, have noted, the law is designed to enable human violence against animals rather than prevent it.[6]

Canadian law, for instance, ostensibly protects animals against “unnecessary suffering.” It follows that any “necessary” suffering is legally permissible. This results in unchecked and horrendous institutionalized violence against animals, including mutilations without anesthetic; intensive confinement so extreme animals cannot turn around, lie down, spread their wings, or otherwise move; long transport without food, water, or rest in trucks not adequately protected against inclement weather; and cruel and inefficient methods of slaughter. The law also allows sadistic procedures to be performed on animals in laboratories, including Category E experiments or “procedures which cause severe pain near, at, or above the pain tolerance threshold of unanesthetized conscious animals,” such as:

Exposure to noxious stimuli or agents whose effects are unknown; exposure to drugs or chemicals at levels that (may) markedly impair physiological systems and which cause death, severe pain, or extreme distress; completely new biomedical experiments which have a high degree of invasiveness; behavioral studies about which the effects of the degree of distress are not known; use of muscle relaxants or paralytic drugs without anesthetics; burn or trauma infliction on unanesthetized animals; a euthanasia method not approved by the CCAC; any procedures (e.g., the injection of noxious agents or the induction of severe stress or shock) that will result in pain which approaches the pain tolerance threshold and cannot be relieved by analgesia (e.g., when toxicity testing and experimentally-induced infectious disease studies have death as the endpoint).[7]

When practices that would otherwise constitute torture are deemed perfectly acceptable, this is surely nothing less than the sign of a broken legal system.

As Justin Marceau notes, anticruelty laws remain deliberately “laser-focused” on isolated cases of companion animal abuse while sidestepping systemic violence. Individual criminal prosecutions achieve very little in the way of positive transformation and in fact contribute to animals’ systemic victimization by detracting attention from the core injustices while making it appear as if the law were genuinely committed to protecting animals. Therefore, Marceau holds, the targeting of individual offenders for crimes against individual animal victims is a “trap” for animal advocates.[8]

To Marceau, the “crime victims’ rights framing” favored by many animal lawyers is highly problematic, not least because it is “imbued with the rhetoric and logics of a tough-on-crime movement.”[9] This punitive approach is at odds with the spirit of social justice movements that seek to collectively liberate all beings from oppressive power. The prison industrial complex is just as fundamentally oppressive as the animal industrial complex. Imprisonment itself ought to be an object of critique for animal advocates: if the aim of animal liberation is to free animals from cages, how can putting humans in “cages” help achieve this goal?[10] Whatever one’s view on incarceration, there can be little doubt that aligning the animal liberation movement with repressive state power is a fraught endeavor at best.

One approach that challenges animals’ double victimization under the law is to argue for animal personhood. If corporations, neighborhood associations, and government entities can be granted personhood, surely it is no huge leap to attribute personhood to at least some animals. Indeed, given the egregious harms committed against animals due to their property status, personhood is a logical and laudable goal. However, there are numerous problems with the personhood approach, not least its focus on “higher” mammals with human-like intelligence, such as nonhuman primates, cetaceans, and elephants.It is one thing to convince the courts to grant personhood to chimpanzees, but it is quite another to convince them to grant it to chickens, rats, or pigs.

Maintaining that the notion of personhood is fundamentally tainted by its colonial, Eurocentric, anthropocentric, and androcentric origins, Maneesha Deckha proposes we establish “legal being” as an alternative category to ameliorate animals’ condition. Legal being sidesteps the prejudicial pitfalls of personhood by grounding the category in embodiment, relationality, and vulnerability.[11] The responsibility shifts from animal defenders having to prove that animals possess specific capacities to be deemed worthy of legal protection, to the law having to prove why it excludes animals from its protection, something it cannot do without recourse to prejudicial notions of personhood.

The criterion of vulnerability is especially important here because a just social and legal system would treat animals’ vulnerability as grounds for heightened care rather than exploitation.[12] Put another way, within the current civilizational order, animals are arguably the beings most vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, and killing (victimization), and yet this vulnerability is consistently denied. Legal being or “beingness” would put an end to this perverse irony:

If beingness can help signal to judges, legislators, or policy-makers that they direct their attention to the vulnerability animals experience because of their embodiment and relationality, then there is a possibility of intervening in practices that normalize the degradation of animal bodies and the denial of their vulnerability.[13]

In stating that animals are “voiceless without legal advocates,”[14] Ireland Moore raises a fundamental point: the problem of speaking for others. Whereas other emancipatory movements, as Lauren Corman remarks, have progressively emancipated themselves from patronizing and appropriative practices that claim to speak for the victims, most animal advocacy movements continue to claim the role of the “voice of the voiceless.”[15] Corman provides several examples, but one will suffice here: in a 2004 interview, tellingly titled “Giving Voice to Animal Rights,” Tom Regan states that:

My reason for being in this world is to be a spokesperson for those who cannot speak for themselves. I am absolutely certain about this. It’s nothing exceptional in my case. It is true of every other animal advocate. This is why we are in the world. The fact that we have a purpose to our life is very unusual. I think vast numbers of people are born and die, and never have any sense of why they are here. As animal advocates, we have a reason to get up in the morning. A reason to rest at night. And that is to be a voice for the voiceless.[16]

The phrase has an ancient and noble lineage dating back to the Bible, where in Proverbs 31:8 we read: “Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, / and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.” In animal advocacy it became common, according to Sunaura Taylor, after the 1910 publication of the homonymous poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

I am the voice of the voiceless:
Through me, the dumb shall speak;
Till the deaf world’s ear be made to hear
The cry of the wordless weak.

Oh shame on the mothers of mortals
Who have not stopped to teach
Of the sorrow that lies in dear, dumb eyes,
The sorrow that has no speech.

From street, from cage, and from kennel,
From jungle and stall, the wail
Of my tortured kin proclaims the sin
Of the mighty against the frail.

But I am my brother’s keeper,
And I will fight his fight,
And speak the word for beast and bird,
Till the world shall set things right.[17]

This ubiquitous stance is perhaps a natural reaction to an ancient tradition that considers animals as mute automata: animal advocates, Taylor notes, have had to overcome centuries of Cartesianism to prove not only that animals can suffer but also that humans should care about this suffering. The byproduct of this battle, however, is that animals are all too often presented as nothing more than voiceless, suffering beings. Suffering and voicelessness not only describe the experience of being a victim, but also reduce the victim to these two traits.[18]

Besides being paternalistic and ultimately amounting to an abuse of power, this “saviorism”[19] has more to do with the “savior” than the “saved.” It is the discourse through which those in power represent not only those who have been oppressed but also the relationship between the two sides: the “strong” save the “weak” (this is the “charity of the strong”); those “up here” take care of those “down there.”[20] As such, saviorism serves the purpose of self-representation, literally “producing” the identity of the savior in opposition to that of the saved[21] and thereby revealing more about the “desire of those projecting the images than about the reality of those being portrayed.”[22]

Once more, a case in point is Tom Regan who, in the interview quoted above, asserts that speaking for the voiceless is his “reason for being in this world” and to “get up in the morning,” that is, the essential part of his identity.[23] It is not for nothing that Regan is responsible for introducing the Kantian terminology of “moral agent” and “moral patient” into animal ethics: reducing animals to dependent moral patients to be saved by autonomous moral (human) agents is a fundamental gesture of saviorism. This gesture, however, ends up repeating and replicating the very structure that it opposes: the violent subjugation of nonhuman animals.[24]

The idea of animals as victims is so entrenched in our culture that it is difficult for us to separate the two. As Marian Scholtmeijer puts it (with a certain overstatement),

Every animal we see is likely to appear intrinsically defeated, a victim of human dominance. Almost nothing remains to animals that has not been constrained, pruned, injured, or eradicated by humankind. The modern person is most likely to accept the animal’s status as victim as definitive, forgetting that the bulk of what is “animal” in animals has nothing whatever to do with victimization.[25]

This exaggerated pessimism and hopelessness is itself a function of power, a “colonialist move”[26] that ultimately robs the victim of their voice and agency.

Finally, Corman maintains, the phrase “voice of the voiceless” assigns voice exclusively and necessarily to humans, thereby disregarding all other forms of expression and communication.[27] As Taylor points out, this also implies an ableist conflation of animality with “dumbness”: animals lack the ability to communicate through a (human) “voice” and are therefore disabled, which, once again, reaffirms and reinforces the unbridgeable divide between those who have voices and those who are voiceless.[28]

To this saviorist, pessimist, colonialist, ableist, paternalistic stance, Taylor and others oppose the words of Arundhati Roy, from her acceptance speech for the Sydney Peace Prize in 2004 (the same year as Regan’s interview): “there’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”[29] Animals are not voiceless. Their voices are “deliberately silenced” and remain “preferably unheard.” The fight against this silencing is not to speak for them, but instead to listen to them and to let their voices be heard.

Insights into animal agency can help us avoid the slippage between recognizing animals’ victimization and reducing them to permanent victims. Peter Singer’s seminal book, Animal Liberation, legitimized concern for animal exploitation by arguing that animals’ capacity to suffer and their interest in not suffering are sufficient grounds for moral concern.[30] However, the emphasis Singer placed on suffering has led to an unfortunate tendency to reduce animals to suffering beings per se.

In her excellent piece, “Ideological Monkey Wrenching: Nonhuman Animal Politics beyond Suffering,” Corman warns against characterizing animals as “pure victims” and focusing on animal suffering at the expense of other dimensions of their subjectivity.[31] To be sure, “Suffering should not be dismissed or neglected in efforts to end exploitation.” It goes without saying that “we must discuss suffering,” Corman argues, “but we should do so in conjunction with other, richer versions of other animals’ experiences.”[32]

Corman makes a crucial point here: a failure to account for animals’ multifaceted, subjective lives makes their suffering and victimization appear much less grave than it actually is. Corman herself realized the importance of highlighting animals’ subjectivity through her work as a Professor of Critical Animal Studies (CAS), discovering that students only understand the true immensity and horror of the violence we perpetrate against animals after encountering the latter in all their richness and multidimensionality.[33]

The plenitude of complex and diverse animal subjectivities, Corman maintains, is evident in the field of cognitive ethology. Jonathan Balcombe’s wonderful exploration of animal pleasure in Pleasurable Kingdom is an early intervention into the reductive view of animals-as-suffering-beings,[34] revealing how the pursuit of myriad forms of pleasure is a driving force for other animals just as much as for human beings. Ethologists like Marc Bekoff and his co-author Jessica Piercehave done a brilliant job of uncovering the layers of animal subjectivity in their observational studies into animal behavior.[35] By fleshing out animal subjectivity, so to speak, these thinkers show us just how significant our injustices against animals are. If they truly were the machines we treat them as, and their suffering no more than a reflex, animals could hardly be considered victims of violence or oppression at all.

The animal industrial complex rarely gives animals the chance to develop as subjects, to express themselves, to actualize their agency. Animals would never agree to the things being done to them, and so, for those things to be done, their agency, autonomy, individuality, personality, their very bodies, must be warped and crushed into conformity. Yet, as Dinesh Wadiwel points out, this denial of animal agency rests on its implicit (if negative) affirmation. Cages, crates, and other devices of restraint would not be needed if animals did not clearly exhibit a will of their own. Mutilations would not be necessary if animals’ bodies and behaviors did not naturally resist their subjugation.

Paradoxically, the system of production itself is shaped by animal resistance. Factory farms, slaughterhouses, and the entire machinery devoted to animal “production” must always be designed anew, in a perpetual struggle to counter animals’ inevitable opposition.[36] Even as the infrastructure of their oppression keeps adapting to disable their capacity for resistance, and even in a context as hopeless, paralyzing, and incapacitating as the slaughterhouse, animals continue resisting.[37]

Stereotypic behaviors such as biting the bars of a gestation crate, however, should not be confused with resistance, which, as Jason Hribal points out, cannot be reduced to the symptom of a pathology (even if the animals who resist, along with those who do not, are very likely suffering from depression and other disorders resulting from their abuse).[38] Nonetheless, stereotypic behaviors do reveal just how antithetical intensive confinement, immobilization, social isolation, and other systemic deprivations are to life.

Hribal and Sarat Colling have unearthed myriad stories of animal resistance and rebellion in historical archives, media reports, and popular culture. They share poignant and heart-wrenching accounts of individual animals fighting back against their oppressors, from an elephant or orca killing a trainer to a goat escaping a truck to the slaughterhouse. This focus on animal resistance does not obscure animals’ victimization. To the contrary, it reveals just how miserable animals’ lived experiences under human tyranny are. Resistance does not need to be heroic—it can take many forms, some of them hard to recognize. But no matter whether and how they resist, animals are always more than victims.

As their oppressors know full well, animals are fundamentally agential beings.[39] The complexity of animal agency, however, cannot be reduced to the kind of rational reflection and conscious intent which have traditionally been taken to characterize human agency (although human agency itself takes many different forms). Some theorists of agency, however, especially those in the posthumanist tradition, blur the line between potential and actual agency. Donna Haraway, for instance, opines that animals used for research are agents that shape the actions of others in an inter-relational network[40] and further suggests that animals in the lab are “active workers” participating in “entangled labor.”[41] This is patently false and all the more sinister for its implication of animals in their own destruction and demise. Here, we would argue, the desire to position animals as active agents involved in productive processes indeed results in the denial of their victimization, allowing it to continue unabated.

Another problematic claim that seems to be popular among posthumanist scholars is that everything has agency, from animals to bacteria to objects. In this completely flattened ethical landscape, there is no difference between a cow and a microbe, and veganism, for instance, can be problematized for honoring the agency of one over the other. If, however, the agency of cows and the movement of bacteria are placed on an equal footing, there is not much hope for cows or, by extension, any other animal.[42] For the concept of agency to have any substance at all, any ethical or political weight, it must only apply to beings for whom its expression or denial marks the difference between a meaningful and miserable life, a life of flourishing and frustration, a life of joy and pain.

In Zoopolis, Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka offer a framework for actualizing animals’ political agency and formally recognizing their status as members of a social and political community.[43] Building on disability studies research into “dependent agency” and drawing on existing categories of political membership, they make a compelling case for enabling animals to challenge and prevent their own victimization.

Donaldson and Kymlicka dispense with the androcentric, anthropocentric, and Eurocentric conception of the “rational” agent. Arguing that rational deliberation is not a necessary feature of political participation and indeed plays less of a part in it than we might wish to believe, they point to the multifarious ways in which agency expresses itself through, among other things, embodiment and relationality.

Animals already have a voice, they already speak out against their victimization, and they already tell us what they want and need to live healthy, happy lives. Most of the time, we ignore them—not least through a political system that is as profoundly speciesist as the legal one. By advocating for the formal recognition of animals’ political agency, Donaldson and Kymlicka enable us to radically decenter the human in politics (to say nothing of our fantasy about what “the human” is or how it should look and sound).

To escape the morass of the savior narrative, Colling suggests listening to animal voices and then speaking in solidarity with them—instead of for them.[44] The first step in this supportive struggle for animal voices to be heard is to view our relationship with them as a dialogue. Josephine Donovan has been arguing this for more than two decades. A proponent of the “ethics of care,” she stresses that truly caring means listening to what the (animal) other is saying: “Caring must therefore be extended to mean not just ‘caring about their welfare’ but ‘caring about what they are telling us.’”[45]

Donovan’s proposal shifts the epistemological source of theorizing about animals to the animals themselves, to “caring about” what they want and have to say instead of monologically burdening them with human projections. A communicative encounter, of course, does not imply yielding to the other’s desires entirely. Rather, it involves a dialogical negotiation and, most importantly, the recognition and valuing of the other’s standpoint.

Building on an intuition by Carol Adams,[46] Donovan is, in fact, adapting feminist standpoint theory to human-animal relations. Developed during the 1970s and 1980s from a Marxist insight—that the oppressed evince a particular and privileged epistemology precisely because of their reification in the capitalist production process—feminist standpoint theory argues that knowledge is always socially situated and aims to empower oppressed groups by valuing their experiences and developing an “oppositional consciousness.”[47] This theory obviously needs to be updated and adapted to cover nonhuman animals, probably by including human advocates to articulate the standpoint of animals,[48] but these adaptations would not be very different from those, say, for cognitively disabled humans.

To recalibrate care around listening means to move animal advocacy away from “the voice of the voiceless.” From a pragmatic point of view, it might sometimes be justified to speak for the animal other (when articulating their standpoint, for example),[49] but considering them “voiceless” is always a way not only of patronizing them, but indeed of silencing them. Nonhuman animals speak, but not in the language of power.[50] They speak “in a different voice,” but so do many human agents, and if we care to listen, we can often understand (at least in part) what they say, mean, and want.

That humans can understand animals is, for Donovan, a given; as Mary Midgley argued long ago, it has been abundantly proved in countless successful human-animal interactions throughout history.[51] Another way of saying this, as Catharine MacKinnon does, is that animals “vote with their feet by running away. They bite back, scream in pain, withhold affection, approach warily, fly and swim away.” It is not difficult to read these signs.[52] Of course, as with humans, signs can be misread and messages mixed; all communication requires interpretation and is ultimately partial and imperfect. But what we can effectively read and understand is, generally if not universally, “sufficient for the formulation of an ethical response.[53]

Like other care feminists, Donovan takes the notion of attention theorized by Simone Weil and Iris Murdoch as the essential tool that enables interspecies understanding and communication. In a nutshell: for Murdoch (who borrows it from Weil), attention focuses not only on the particular traits and peculiarities of the other in their context, but constructs its relationship to alterity through a “just and loving gaze,” therefore aiming at another’s wellbeing and flourishing.[54]

Moral attention, in turn, must work with moral imagination, an imaginative effort that takes the empathizer beyond the boundaries of one’s own experience and situation. Attention and imagination must complement but also restrain each other to provide as complete a picture as possible of the ethical relationship. Love and justice imbue the attentive gaze with respect for the other’s voice, for the other’s standpoint; but this respect also entails the recognition of another’s inviolable alterity, which means an acceptance of incomprehension and, most of all, a willingness to renounce looking, grasping, and understanding. A dialogue is always a negotiation that also entails the possibility of withdrawing, of leaving the other alone.

This is the caveat that a standpoint theory adapted to interspecies communication should never forget, lest it revert to traditional monologic projection. Standpoint theory is not immune to epistemic privilege, and the inevitable risk of assuming a particular perspective is indeed that of sidestepping and undervaluing another’s perspective and alterity. This is particularly the case in asymmetrical power contexts such as human-animal relationships. Care theorists readily acknowledge these problems, as they do the ever-present risk of anthropomorphizing the animal other, which is the eternal shadow hovering over all these theories and the eternal challenge of animal otherness. Listening in solidarity may be an endless task, but it is one that grants animals their agency and subjectivity, and overturns their age-old image as nothing but victims.;

dePICTions volume 4 (2024): Victimhood

[1] For animal agency, see Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka, Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, and Eva Meijer, When Animals Speak: Toward an Interspecies Democracy, New York: New York University Press, 2019. For animal subjectivity and voices, see Lauren Corman, “The Ventriloquist’s Burden: Animal Advocacy and the Problem of Speaking for Others,” in Jodey Castricano and Lauren Corman, eds., Animal Subjects 2.0., Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2016, 473–512. For animal resistance, see Jason Hribal, Fear of the Animal Planet: The Hidden History of Animal Resistance, Chico: AK Press, 2011, and Sarat Colling, Animal Resistance in the Global Capitalist Era, East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2020.

[2] See Donna Haraway, Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse: Feminism and Technoscience, London: Routledge, 1997, and When Species Meet,Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.

[3] See Andrew N. Ireland Moore, “Defining Animals as Crime Victims,” Journal of Animal Law 1.1 (2005): 91-108.

[4] See Justin Marceau, “Animal Rights and the Victimhood Trap,” Arizona Law Review 63.1 (2021): 731-787. We will come back to all authors mentioned here in the course of the article.

[5] Ireland Moore, “Defining Animals as Crime Victims,” 96. See also Aimee Green, “Animals can be ‘victims’ just like people, Oregon Supreme Court says,” OregonLive, 22 August 2014 [27 November 2023]; Animal Legal Defense Fund, “Animals as Crime Victims: Development of a New Legal Status,” [27 November 2023]; Marina Lostal, “De-objectifying Animals: Could they Qualify as Victims before the International Criminal Court?”, Journal of International Criminal Justice 19 (2021): 583–610.

[6] Lesli Bisgould, Animals and the Law, Toronto: Irwin Law, 2011; Will Kymlicka, “Social Membership: Animal Law Beyond the Property/Personhood Impasse,” Dalhousie Law Journal 40.1 (2017): 123-155.

[7] Canadian Council on Animal Care, “Categories of Invasiveness in Animal Experiments,” CCAC Policy Statement, 2 [24 March 2024].

[8] Marceau, “Animal Rights and the Victimhood Trap.” See also Marc Bekoff, “Is Treating Abused Animals as Victims Good for the Animals? An Interview with Justin Marceau,” Psychology Today,16 November 2021 [27 November 2023].

[9] Marceau, “Animal Rights and the Victimhood Trap,” 732.

[10] See also Lori Gruen and Justin Marceau, eds., Carceral Logics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022.

[11] Maneesha Deckha, Animals as Legal Beings: Contesting Anthropocentric Legal Orders, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2021.

[12] While it is true that convincing a court to grant personhood to pigs, chickens, etc., is a fool’s errand, convincing a court to grant “legal being” status to a nonhuman animal seems to be open to the same objection raised against the personhood strategy. We thank Robert Jones for pointing this out to us—and for many other comments and suggestions on an early draft of this article.

[13] Deckha, Animals as Legal Beings, 136.

[14] Ireland Moore, “Defining Animals as Crime Victims,” 108.

[15] Lauren Corman, “The Ventriloquist’s Burden,” 473.

[16] Tom Regan, “Giving Voice to Animal Rights. Interview with Tom Regan,” Satya, August 2004 [30 November 2023].

[17] Quoted in Sunaura Taylor, Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation, New York: The New Press, 2017, 61-62; also in Corman, “The Ventriloquist’s Burden,” 483. These are just a few, rearranged stanzas from the much longer poem, found in its entirety in the 1917 collection, Poems of Experience. These stanzas also form the basis for the modified and “updated” version of the poem found on many activists’ websites.

[18] Taylor, Beasts of Burden, 43.

[19] Colling, Animal Resistance in the Global Capitalist Era, viii.

[20] Corman, “The Ventriloquist’s Burden,” 481; Michael Loadenthal, “Queering (Animal) Liberation and (Queer) Victimhood: The Reappropriation of Intersectionality and Violence,” in Jorell A. Meléndez Badillo and Nathan J. Jun, eds., Without Borders or Limits: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Anarchist Studies, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013, 213-239, here 223; Fahim Amir, Being and Swine: The End of Nature (As We Knew It), trans. Corvin Russell, Toronto: Between the Lines, 2020, 171.

[21] Colling, Animal Resistance in the Global Capitalist Era, viii.

[22] Amir, Being and Swine, 170.

[23] We do not intend to “pick” on Tom Regan in particular, who did so much to revive and modernize animal ethics—and certainly introduced the Kantian agent/patient distinction to use the language of those he was arguing against. But while we acknowledge his major contribution as one of the founding fathers of contemporary animal ethics, we want to emphasize that in many ways he also embodies the limits of this tradition, and therefore we use him as paradigmatic example of the saviorist attitude. We want to clarify, however, that we do not consider saviorism and speaking in solidarity as two clear-cut, inconsistent, and radically alternative positions: though we simplified the two positions for the sake of our argument, activism mostly ends up being a positively creative combination of both. An example of such convergence is found in Alasdair Cochrane and Mara-Daria Cojocaru, “Veganism as political solidarity: Beyond ‘ethical veganism’,” Journal of Social Philosophy 54.1 (2023): 59-76. Again, we thank Robert Jones for pointing out the need for this clarification.

[24] Amir, Being and Swine, 19-20, 172.

[25] Marian Scholtmeijer, Animal Victims in Modern Fiction: From Sanctity to Sacrifice, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993, 11.

[26] Corman, “The Ventriloquist’s Burden,” 474.

[27] Corman, “The Ventriloquist’s Burden,” 474.

[28] Taylor, Beasts of Burden, 62-63.

[29] Arundhati Roy, “Peace & The New Corporate Liberation Theology,” 2004 Sydney Peace Prize Lecture, delivered at the Seymour Theatre Centre, University of Sydney, 4 November 2004 [24 March 20024]; quoted in Taylor, Beasts of Burden, 62, and Colling, Animal Resistance in the Global Capitalist Era, ix.

[30] Peter Singer, Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement, New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classic, 2009; see also Peter Singer, Animal Liberation Now: The Definitive Classic Renewed, New York: Harper Perennial, 2023.

[31] Lauren Corman, “Ideological Monkey Wrenching: Nonhuman Animal Politics beyond Suffering,” in David Nibert, ed., Animal Oppression and Capitalism – Volume 2: The Oppressive and Destructive Role of Capitalism, Santa Barbara: Praeger Press, 252-269, here 252.

[32] Corman, “Ideological Monkey Wrenching,” 253.

[33] Corman, “Ideological Monkey Wrenching,” 254-255.

[34] Jonathan Balcombe, Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007.

[35] Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009.

[36] Dinesh Wadiwel, The War Against Animals, Leiden: Brill, 2015, and Animals and Capital, Edinburgh: Ediburgh University Press, 2023.

[37] Timothy Pachirat, Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013.

[38] Hribal, Fear of the Animal Planet; Colling, Animal Resistance in the Global Capitalist Era, 168.

[39] On animal agency, see, for instance, Bob Carter and Nickie Charles, “Animals, Agency and Resistance,” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 43.3 (2013): 322–340; Chris Pearson, “Beyond ‘Resistance’: Rethinking Nonhuman Agency for a ‘More-Than-Human’ World,” European Review of History 22.5 (2015): 709–725; Tuomas Räsänen and Taina Syrjäma, eds., Shared Lives of Humans and Animals: Animal Agency in the Global North,London: Routledge, 2015; Dale Jamieson, “Animal Agency,” Harvard Review of Philosophy 25 (2018): 111–126; Michael Tomasello, The Evolution of Agency: Behavioral Organization from Lizards to Humans, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2022.

[40] Haraway, Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse; see Wadiwel, The War Against Animals, 210.

[41] Haraway, When Species Meet, 80.

[42] Zipporah Weisberg, “The Trouble with Posthumanism: Bacteria are People Too,” in John Sorenson, ed., Thinking the Unthinkable: New Readings in Critical Animal Studies, Toronto: Canadian Scholar’s Press, 2014, 93-116.

[43] Donaldson and Kymlicka, Zoopolis.

[44] Colling, Animal Resistance in the Global Capitalist Era, vii-ix.

[45] Josephine Donovan, “Caring to Dialogue: Feminism and the Treatment of Animals,” in Lori Gruen and Carol Adams, eds., Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth, second edition, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2022, 47-67, here 52.

[46] Donovan (“Caring to Dialogue,” 66n8) acknowledges that it was Adams who first had the idea to apply standpoint theory to nonhuman animals in “‘Mad Cow’ Disease and the Animal Industrial Complex: An Eco-feminist Analysis,” Organization and Environment 10.1 (1997): 26–51.

[47] For an overview, see Sandra Harding, ed., The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual and Political Controversies, London: Routledge, 2004.

[48] Donovan, “Caring to Dialogue,” 61.

[49] Meijer, When Animals Speak, 224.

[50] Meijer, When Animals Speak, 256.

[51] Donovan, “Caring to Dialogue,” 62; Mary Midgley, Animals and Why They Matter, Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1983, 113-115.

[52] Catharine A. MacKinnon, “Of Mice and Men: A Feminist Fragment on Animal Rights,” in Josephine Donovan and Carol J. Adams, eds., The Feminist Care Tradition in Animal Ethics, New York: Columbia University Press, 2004, 316–332, here 320; quoted in Josephine Donovan, Animals, Mind, and Matter: The Inside Story, East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2022, 3.

[53] Donovan, “Caring to Dialogue,” 66-67n11; Donovan, Animals, Mind, and Matter, 11, emphasis added.

[54] Iris Murdoch, The Sovereignty of Good, with a preface by Mary Midgley, London: Routledge, 2014, 33.