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Religion, Animal Ethics, and White Supremacy:

Problems at the Intersections

Andrea Jain; School of Liberal Arts, Religious Studies, IUPUI

 

Recent developments in the (post)humanities testify to the promise of theorizing race and animality together as mutually informative and co-implicated categories. The adoption of an intersectional methodology that brings together scholarship on race with scholarship on animals has revolutionized critiques of white supremacy in various disciplines, such as philosophy, cultural theory, and comparative literature. Unfortunately, however, the same cannot be said of the study of religion. Although the discipline of religious studies has produced important work in these areas independently, there has yet to be much work on the intersections of religion, animal ethics, and white supremacy. 

This project is an attempt to address significant oversights in the study of religion and race. It not only aims to further theorize the complex relationship between religion, animal ethics, and white supremacy, but to do so from a comparative perspective rather than from a Christian theological one. We aim to transcend a narrow focus on Christianity so as to include other traditions, including Islam and Hinduism, and broader theoretical reflections, including religious studies and anthropology. Strategically diverse, participants will include scholars with expertise in Islam, Jainism, Hinduism, and theory and method in the study of religion, as we seek to theorize the intersections of religion and racism and speciesism, of white supremacy and animality, in diverse and multiple contexts.

 

  • How do religious understandings of and approaches to non-human animals get drawn into and shape cultural, political, and social discourses, particularly around constitutions of racial othering, such as the othering of Islam, and white supremacy?
  • How do elite projects of environmental conservation and animal-rights relate to white supremacy and people’s struggle for social and political justice in the face of racial discrimination?
  • what are the implicit assumptions that justify systematic violence against marginalized communities of animals and people?