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According to the Institute of Critical Animal Studies, these are the 5 most important books as of 2013 in the field of critical animal studies.


1. Kim Socha, “Women, Destruction, and the Avant-Garde: A Paradigm for Animal Liberation” (Critical Animal Studies Series, Rodopi Press, 2012)

Women-Destruction-and-the-Avant-Garde-Kim-Socha-9789042034235This interdisciplinary study fuses analysis of feminist literature and manifestos, radical political theory, critical vanguard studies, women’s performance art, and popular culture to argue for the animal liberation movement as successor to the liberationist visions of the early twentieth-century avant-gardes, most especially the Surrealists. These vanguard groups are judiciously critiqued for their refusal to confront their own misogyny, a quandary that continues to plague animal activists, thereby disallowing for cohesion and full recognition of women’s value within a culturally marginalized cause. This volume is of interest to anyone who is concerned about the continued-indeed, escalating-violence against nonhumans. More broadly, it will interest those seeking new pathways to challenge the dominant power constructions through which oppression of humans, nonhumans, and the environment thrives. Women, Destruction, and the Avant-Garde ultimately poses the animal liberation movement as having serious political and cultural implications for radical social change, destruction of hierarchy and for a world without shackles and cages, much as the Surrealists envisioned.


2. Helena Pederson, “Animals in Schools: Processes and Strategies in Human-Animal Education” (2010)

animals in schoolsAnimals in Schools explores important questions in the field of critical animal studies and education by close examination of a wide range of educational situations and classroom activities. How are human- animal relations expressed and discussed in school? How do teachers and students develop strategies to handle ethical conflicts arising from the ascribed position of animals as accessible to human control, use, and killing? How do schools deal with topics such as zoos, hunting, and meat consumption? These are questions that have profound implications for education and society. They are graphically described, discussed, and rendered problematic based on detailed ethnographic research and are analyzed by means of a synthesis of perspectives from critical theory, gender, and postcolonial thought.

Helena Pedersen, who holds a Ph.D. in education, is a researcher in the School of Education at Malmö University. Recent and forthcoming works appear in the volumes Social Justice, Peace, and Environmental Education: Transformative Standards (Routledge, 2009); Zootopian Visions of Animal Encounter: Farewell to Noah (Lexington Books, 2010); Global Harms: Ecological Crime and Speciesism (Nova Science Publishers, 2008); and Values and Democracy in Education for Sustainable Development (Liber, 2008). Helena Pedersen received the American Sociological Association’s Award for Distinguished Graduate Student Scholarship (the Animals and Society Section) in 2006.


3. Richard Twine, “Animals as Biotechnology: Ethics, Sustainability and Critical Animal Studies” (2010)

animals as biotechnologyIn Animals as Biotechnology sociologist Richard Twine places the question of human/animal relations at the heart of sustainability and climate change debates. The book is shaped by the emergence of two contradictory trends within our approach to nonhuman animals: the biotechnological turn in animal sciences, which aims to increase the efficiency and profitability of meat and dairy production; and the emerging field of critical animal studies – mostly in the humanities and social sciences – which works to question the nature of our relations with other animals.

The first part of the book focuses on ethics, examining critically the dominant paradigms of bioethics and power relations between human and non-human. The second part considers animal biotechnology and political economy, examining commercialisation and regulation. The final part of the book centres on discussions of sustainability, limits and an examination of the prospects for animal ethics if biotechnology becomes part of the dominant agricultural paradigm. Twine concludes by considering whether growing calls to reduce our consumption of meat/dairy products in the face of climate change threats are in fact complicit with an anthropocentric understanding of sustainability and that what is needed is a more fundamental ethical and political questioning of relations and distinctions between humans, animals and nature.

Richard Twine is a Senior Research Associate at Cesagen (ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics), Lancaster University, UK.


4. Richard Kahn, “Critical Pedagogy, Ecoliteracy, and Planetary Crisis: The Ecopedagogy Movement” (2010)

ecopedagogy bookWe live in a time of unprecedented planetary ecocrisis, one that poses the serious and ongoing threat of mass extinction. What role can critical pedagogy play in the face of such burgeoning catastrophe? Drawing upon a range of theoretical influences – including Paulo Freire, Ivan Illich, Herbert Marcuse, traditional ecological knowledge, and the cognitive praxis produced by today’s grassroots activists in the alter-globalization, animal and earth liberation, and other radical social movements – this book offers the foundations of a philosophy of ecopedagogy for the global north. In so doing, it poses challenges to today’s dominant ecoliteracy paradigms and programs, such as education for sustainable development, while theorizing the needed reconstruction of critical pedagogy itself in light of our presently disastrous ecological conditions. Students and teachers of critical pedagogy at all levels, as well as those involved in environmental studies and various forms of sustainability education, will find this book a powerful provocation to adjust their thinking and practice to better align with those who seek to abolish forms of culture predicated upon planetary extermination and the domination of nature.

Richard Kahn, Ph.D. (UCLA), is a critical theorist of education who is internationally recognized for his work on ecopedagogy. A long-time anarcho-vegan activist, he regularly works on behalf of animal, ecological, and social justice causes. He is Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations and Research at the University of North Dakota, and presently serves as the editor of Green Theory & Praxis: The Journal of Ecopedagogy. More information about him can be found at: http://richardkahn.org.


5. Nocella, Colin, and Bentley “Animals and War: Confronting the Military-Animal Industrial Complex” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013)

animals and warAnimals and War: Confronting the Military-Animal Industrial Complex is the first book to examine how nonhuman animals are used for war by military forces. Each chapter delves deeply into modes of nonhuman animal exploitation: as weapons, test subjects, and transportation, and as casualties of war leading to homelessness, starvation, and death. With leading scholar-activists writing each chapter, this is an important text in the fields of peace studies and critical animal studies. This is a must read for anyone interested in ending war and fostering peace and justice.

2013 Peace Studies Book of the Year

Anthony J. Nocella II is visiting professor of education and senior fellow in the Dispute Resolution Institute at Hamline University.
Colin Salter teaches in the Faculty of Arts, Law and Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong.
Judy K. C. Bentley is associate professor in the Department of Foundations and Social Advocacy at the State University of New York College at Cortland.