These are the academic resources I most frequently cite in my own scholarship, and I assign classwork and homework based on these readings. Although this list is in no particular order, these titles prioritizes female authors, queer authors, and authors of color. Please note that although my focus lies primarily in animal rights theory, this list of resources includes authors from a variety of socio-political and economic backgrounds. As human and animal liberation frequently overlap, there is no reason to limit the scope of our knowledge to single-issue perspectives. This list is updated periodically.
THE DREADED COMPARISON: HUMAN AND ANIMAL SLAVERY - MARJORIE SPIEGEL (1988)
"Spanning history, psychology, and current events-- and ground-breaking for its thesis which presents the first in-depth exploration of the similarities between the violence humans have wrought against other humans, and our culture's treatment of non-human animals--The Dreaded Comparison has contributed to subsequent explorations by other scholars, historians, legal scholars, law professors and educators in diverse fields to view and further define the modern system of animal exploitation in terms of the model and legacy of human slavery.
The Dreaded Comparison also contributed substantially to broadening the philosophical foundation of the modern discourse about animals beyond its traditionally more limited scope, instilling a far more inclusive and historically-grounded understanding of the critical issues Spiegel sensitively explores in this book."
THE SEXUAL POLITICS OF MEAT, A FEMINIST-VEGETARIAN CRITICAL THEORY - CAROL J. ADAMS (1990)
"The Sexual Politics of Meat is Carol Adams' inspiring and controversial exploration of the interplay between contemporary society's ingrained cultural misogyny and its obsession with meat and masculinity. First published in 1990, the book has continued to change the lives of tens of thousands of readers into the second decade of the 21st century.
Published in the year of the book's 25th anniversary, the Bloomsbury Revelations edition includes a substantial new afterword, including more than 20 new images and discussions of recent events that prove beyond doubt the continuing relevance of Adams' revolutionary book."
FREEDOM IS A CONSTANT STRUGGLE: FERGUSON, PALESTINE, AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF A MOVEMENT - ANGELA Y. DAVIS (2016)
"In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world.
Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today's struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She highlights connections and analyzes today's struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine.
Facing a world of outrageous injustice, Davis challenges us to imagine and build the movement for human liberation. And in doing so, she reminds us that 'Freedom is a constant struggle.'"
EVOLUTION'S RAINBOW - DR. JOAN ROUGHGARTEN (2009)
In this innovative celebration of diversity and affirmation of individuality in animals and humans, Joan Roughgarden challenges accepted wisdom about gender identity and sexual orientation. A distinguished evolutionary biologist, Roughgarden takes on the medical establishment, the Bible, social science—and even Darwin himself. She leads the reader through a fascinating discussion of diversity in gender and sexuality among fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals, including primates. Evolution's Rainbow explains how this diversity develops from the action of genes and hormones and how people come to differ from each other in all aspects of body and behavior. Roughgarden reconstructs primary science in light of feminist, gay, and transgender criticism and redefines our understanding of sex, gender, and sexuality. This is a witty, playful, and daring book that has revolutionized our understanding of sexuality.
THOUGH THE HEAVENS MAY FALL: THE LANDMARK TRIAL THAT LED TO THE END OF HUMAN SLAVERY - STEVEN WISE (2005)
"The 1772 London trial of James Somerset, rescued from a ship bound for the West Indies slave markets, was a decisive turning point in history. As in the Scopes trial, two encompassing world views clashed in an event of passionate drama. Steven M. Wise, trial lawyer and legal historian, has uncovered layer upon layer of fascinating revelations in a case which threatened, according to slave owners, to bring the economy of the British Empire to a crashing halt. In a gripping narrative of Somerset's trial-and of the slave trials that led up to it-he sets the stage for the unexpected decision by the famously conservative judge, Lord Mansfield, which would lead to the abolition of slavery, both in England and the United States, and the end of the African slave trade.The characters in this great historical moment go beyond a screenwriter's dream: Somerset's novice attorneys arguing their first case; the fervent British abolitionist Granville Sharp, a cross between Ralph Nader and William Lloyd Garrison, who had brought case after case to court in an attempt to abolish slavery; the master's two-faced and skillful lawyer, who had recently argued before Mansfield that slavery could not exist in England; and finally, the greatest judge of his time, Lord Mansfield, whose own mulatto grand-niece, Dido Belle, was his slave.As the case drew to a close Lord Mansfield spoke these stirring words that continue to resound more than two centuries later: 'Let Justice be done, though the Heavens may fall.'"
ANIMAL MADNESS: HOW ANXIOUS DOGS, COMPULSIVE PARROTS, AND ELEPHANTS IN RECOVERY HELP US UNDERSTAND OURSELVES - LAUREL BRAITMAN (2014)
“Many animals cope with unstimulating or small environments through stereotypic behavior, which, in zoological parlance, is a repetitive behavior that serves no obvious purpose, such as pacing, bar biting, and figure-eight swimming. Trichotillomania (repetitive hair plucking) and regurgitation and reingestation (the practice of repetitively vomiting and eating the vomit) are also common in captivity. According to Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson, authors of Animals Make Us Human, these behaviors, “almost never occur in the wild.” In captivity, these behaviors are so common that they have a name: “zoochosis,” or psychosis caused by confinement […]
Zoos are, first and foremost, for people—not animals. Zoos exist to serve the human gaze. Braitman explains that this is a problem because “most animals don’t want to be stared at—that’s stressful. And an animal that you can’t see, that’s a pretty crappy zoo exhibit.” At the San Francisco zoo, the gorilla exhibit is recessed, so visitors look down on gorillas from above.* This is in some respects an inventive way to keep the gorillas enclosed without bars, glass, or electrical wires, but being seen from above puts the gorillas in a vulnerable position and makes them uncomfortable.”
"Capitalism is not only about creating wealth, it is also about power – and western power is waning. Economic energy is shifting to the emerging countries, while in the west economies stagnate and politicians continue to worship at the altar of the free market (not least in Britain, where the coalition seems bent on pursuing neo-Thatcherite policies more extreme than those of the 80s). Rather than reforming itself, free-market capitalism looks set simply to decline. But if Chang's reforms are unrealistic, his account of where we find ourselves today is arrestingly accurate. For anyone who wants to understand capitalism not as economists or politicians have pictured it but as it actually operates, this book will be invaluable."
MEATHOOKED - MARTA ZARASKA
"One of the great science and health revelations of our time is the danger posed by meat-eating. Every day, it seems, we are warned about the harm producing and consuming meat can do to the environment and our bodies. Many of us have tried to limit how much meat we consume, and many of us have tried to give it up altogether. But it is not easy to resist the smoky, cured, barbequed, and fried delights that tempt us. What makes us crave animal protein, and what makes it so hard to give up? And if consuming meat is truly unhealthy for human beings, why didn't evolution turn us all into vegetarians in the first place?
In Meathooked, science writer Marta Zaraska explores what she calls the “meat puzzle”: our love of meat, despite its harmful effects. Zaraska takes us on a witty tour of meat cultures around the word, stopping in India's unusual steakhouses, animal sacrifices at temples in Benin, and labs in the Netherlands that grow meat in petri dishes. From the power of evolution to the influence of the meat lobby, and from our genetic makeup to the traditions of our foremothers, she reveals the interplay of forces that keep us hooked on animal protein.
A book for everyone from the diehard carnivore to the committed vegan, Meathooked illuminates one of the most enduring features of human civilization, ultimately shedding light on why meat-eating will continue to shape our bodies—and our world—into the foreseeable future."
23 THINGS THEY DON'T TELL YOU ABOUT CAPITALISM - HA-JOON CHANG
DEMOCRACY MATTERS: WINNING THE FIGHT AGAINST IMPERIALISM - CORNEL WEST (2005)
"In his major bestseller, Race Matters, philosopher Cornel West burst onto the national scene with his searing analysis of the scars of racism in American democracy. Race Matters has become a contemporary classic, still in print after ten years, having sold more than four hundred thousand copies.
In Democracy Matters, West returns to the analysis of the arrested development of democracy—both in America and in the crisis-ridden Middle East. In a strikingly original diagnosis, he argues that if America is becoming a better steward of democratization around the world, we must first wake up to the long history of imperialist corruption that has plagued our own democracy. Both our failure to foster peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the crisis of Islamist anti-Americanism stem largely from hypocrisies in our dealings with the world. Racism and imperial expansionism have gone hand in hand in our country's inexorable drive toward hegemony, and our current militarism is just the latest expression of that drive. Even as we are shocked by Islamic fundamentalism, our own brand of fundamentalism, which West dubs Constantinian Christianity, has joined forces with corporate and political elites in an unholy alliance, and four decades after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., insidious racism still inflicts debilitating psychic pain on so many of our citizens."
CONFRONTING TRAUMA IN A VIOLENT WORLD: A GUIDE FOR ACTIVISTS AND THEIR ALLIES - PATTRICE JONES (2018)
“Aftershock is about the real war against terror—the struggle for a world in which nobody lives in fear of atrocities perpetrated by human beings. Every day, people who push against violence and injustice or pull for peace and freedom must face their own fears. Many activists also must struggle with "aftershock," the physical and emotional reverberations of frightening, horrifying, or otherwise traumatizing experiences endured in the course of their activism.
This book is for aftershocked activists and their allies, as well as for people and organizations that practice high-risk activism. It includes practical tips for individuals, organizations, and communities, as well as information about how traumatic events affect our bodies and abilities.
Aftershock explores the culture of trauma that people have created through our violent exploitation of the Earth, other animals, and one another. As long as we continue to perpetrate such violations, we will never fully heal our own traumatic injuries. This book, therefore, is for survivors of all kinds of trauma, for therapists who treat trauma, and for anyone who hopes to reduce the amount of terror in the world.”
THE ORIGIN OF OTHERS - TONI MORRISON (2017)
"America’s foremost novelist reflects on the themes that preoccupy her work and increasingly dominate national and world politics: race, fear, borders, the mass movement of peoples, the desire for belonging. What is race and why does it matter? What motivates the human tendency to construct Others? Why does the presence of Others make us so afraid?
Drawing on her Norton Lectures, Toni Morrison takes up these and other vital questions bearing on identity in The Origin of Others. In her search for answers, the novelist considers her own memories as well as history, politics, and especially literature. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and Camara Laye are among the authors she examines. Readers of Morrison’s fiction will welcome her discussions of some of her most celebrated books―Beloved, Paradise, and A Mercy."