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Race, Place, and the Bounds of Humanity1

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The idea of a human-animal divide as reflective of both differences in kind and in evolutionary progress, has retained its power to produce and maintain racial and other forms of cultural difference. During the colonial period, representations of similarity were used to link subaltern groups to animals and thereby racialize and dehumanize them. In the postcolonial present, however, animal practices of subdominant groups are typically used for this purpose. Using data on cultural conflicts surrounding animal practices collected from media sources, we show that such practices have become a key aspect of the human-animal boundary due to the radically changing time-space relations of postmodernity. Drawing on Spivak's notion of "wild practice, " we propose a radical democracy that includes animals as well as subaltern peoples, and argue for the rejection of dehumanization as a basis for cultural critique, given its role in perpetuating racialization and violence toward both human and non-human animals.

Affiliations: 1: UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT; 2: UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA; 3: CLARK UNIVERSITY

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/content/journals/10.1163/156853098x00140
1998-01-01
2017-01-20

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