Thursday, November 10, 2011

Initial issues with the grad program listing.

There are already a lot of issues to think through with the grad programs friendly to critical animal studies project.

(1) I have generally been very open with the idea of working on animals. I have included people who have published, people who are teaching, and people who are just beginning doing these things. The goal of the project is to try and identify programs where students would find an atmosphere that might allow them to do the sort of critical animal studies work they want to do, without feeling always intellectually alone.

(2) But I have already run into the problem about the ambiguity of critical animal studies. Usually I enjoy the ambiguity, taking it as a good coalitional term. But there are two problems I am faced with here.

(A) Does CAS just refer to animal studies that intersects on some level with theory (a poorly defined term itself!)? In this, I mean is there any reason, for example, to exclude the animal ethicists working in the analytical tradition? Or the people doing quantitative work on human-animal relationships (if, indeed, anyone is doing that work)? I honestly do see any reason to, say, not list Princeton with the work of Peter Singer.

(B) The other problem has to do with the level to which the work of people listed are for animal welfare, animal abolition, pro-veganism and/or pro-vegetarianism, etc. For example, Kathy Rudy is obviously not pro-vegan or pro-vegetarian, but still considers her work pro-animal welfare. Do we list her work? And what about all the more ambiguous cases? If someone is publishing on, say, Herman Melville and the animal, we might have no good sense of that person's position on vegetarianism/veganism, abolitionism vs. welfarism, etc etc etc. It would be terrible if this list turned into some sort of weird witch-hunt, in which people email into me that so-in-so actually was seen eating animal flesh or whatever. Anyone interested in critical animal studies knows that there is a constant stream of rumors and gossips if certain academics are vegetarians. Or if they are more than vegetarians, but also vegans. Lastly, there is a real limit to my knowledge. I just cannot possibly know everyone's work in every field and discipline, and I cannot know all their positions.

These two issues makes me wonder if a list about critical animal studies is at all possible. Perhaps, all I can do is a list about human-animal studies. I would really like some feedback on all of this.

(3) Should I continue to list graduate certificate programs along with MA and PhD programs? My gut feeling is yes, but I don't have a good reason for that one way or another.

(4) Eric pointed out that I need to add which professors are working on animals in this list. That strikes me as a good idea. Is there any reason that I should maybe avoid this?

Lastly, all of this is taking absurdly more time than I already thought it would. Which is fine. But I have a dissertation to finish (among other things). So the idea of even having a decent Beta list for this application season seems impossible. Still, the goal is to have a strong initial list, at least for North America, by the start of Fall 2012. And that will mean lots more working. I have only gotten a few suggestions so far. Please keep them coming.