Toward a Postcolonial, Posthumanist Feminist Theory: Centralizing Race and Culture in Feminist Work on Nonhuman Animals

Hypatia 27 (3):527-545 (2012)
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Abstract

Posthumanist feminist theory has been instrumental in demonstrating the salience of gender and sexism in structuring human–animal relationships and in revealing the connections between the oppression of women and of nonhuman animals. Despite the richness of feminist posthumanist theorizations it has been suggested that their influence in contemporary animal ethics has been muted. This marginalization of feminist work—here, in its posthumanist version—is a systemic issue within theory and needs to be remedied. At the same time, the limits of posthumanist feminist theory must also be addressed. Although posthumanist feminist theory has generated a sophisticated body of work analyzing how gendered and sexist discourses and practices subordinate women and animals alike, its imprint in producing intersectional analyses of animal issues is considerably weaker. This leaves theorists vulnerable to charges of essentialism, ethnocentrism, and elitism despite best intentions to avoid such effects and despite commitments to uproot all forms of oppression. Gender-focused accounts also preclude understanding of the importance of race and culture in structuring species-based oppression. To counter these undesirable pragmatic and conceptual developments, posthumanist feminist theory needs to engender feminist accounts that centralize the structural axes of race and culture

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