The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1905)

I finally had a chance to read Upton Sinclair’s treatise The Jungle. It fulfilled the fiction crave I had as well as offered me some insight into what is called the ‘Sinclair Effect’ or the idea of violence ‘spilling’ over from working in such a violent work place. I have been fascinated by this concept over the passed few months, however, I have been thinking of it in different contexts like working in any facility that requires institutional violence ie. prisons. My heart breaks for Jurgis, but his experiences led him down a path where he found people he could relate to who were articulating the oppression and critical issues with the system (although it was a path to socialism ha!).

I was minorly disappointed that in the 350 pages there was little space dedicated to talking about animals. It was rather Sinclair used the animals’ bodies as a medium to discuss broader violence within human societies. But there was this quote that noted animals presence within the text.

“One could not stand and watch very long without being philosophical, without beginning to deal in symbols and similes, and to hear the hog-squeal of the universe…. Each of them had an individuality of his own, a will of his own, a hope and a heart’s desire; each was full of self-confidence, of self-importance, and a sense of dignity. And trusting and strong in faith he had gone about his business, the while a black shadow hung over him, and a horrid Fate in his pathway. Now suddenly it had swooped upon him, and had seized him by the leg. Relentless, remorseless, all his protests, his screams were nothing to it. It did its cruel will with him, as if his wishes, his feelings, had simply no existence at all; it cut his throat and watched him gasp out his life.”

Hello again,

Spent my morning writing about urban conflicts between geese & humans in urban landscapes. I love when a paper just feels like a rant because I feel comfortable enough with my ability to switch between activist and academic tone. I plan to post it on here in time. Have to do a grand edit and consult some of my friends on a few ideas before I release these thoughts into the online world.

Anyways- today is kind of a big day. I am driving up to Western University with some animal lib, friends to see Carol J. Adam’s speak! I am suspecting the talk will be like her others I have watched online. Adam’s has meant so much to me, her words found me at the age of 15 and have bolstered be ever since. A mentor however advised me on some of the politics she shares that were lost on me. I have to sink my teeth into this but I am not sure today, or right now is the appropriate time. I have never been a fan of her abolitionists  stance because things are bloody complicated but was unaware of some other stuff.

BUT the most important thing I have learned is to be critical of everyone/thing, always always always.

regardless, I am super pumped because we are going to Veg Out, a vegan junk-food restaurant and I get to spend time with great folks and talk about the mischief we are going to get into~

I have to go get ready and fight with my stubborn and dysfunctional printer but I will leave two things, the first a quote from Carol J. Adams, and next a video of a rad goose spooking a business man that just makes my heart lift.

“We live in a culture that has institutionalized the oppression of animals on at least two levels: in formal structures such as slaughterhouses, meat markets, zoos, laboratories, and circuses, and through our language. That we refer to meat eating rather than to corpse eating is a central example of how our language transmits the dominant culture’s approval of this activity.”

Canadian Geese droppings justify mass exterminations.

copsandgeese
fuck state agents

Woah it has been a while since I came onto this blog. I am just going to return for a few minutes and update my non-existent readers what I am upto!

September has proven to be an incredibly busy month! I started my new job at a raw-vegan restaurant that I love dearly, and also officially joined Students for Critical Animal Studies as one of the core organizers! This is super exciting, especially working along one of the most brilliant activist-academics there ever was haha. What else..what else…Kitchener-Waterloo has a new animal lib group called ALIAS [Animal Liberation IntersectionAlity & Solidarity] because there was too much internal conflict with KOALA and the poor judgement of one of the first organizers who wants to own a grassroots organization. Oh well, it does mean we have to do a lot of work on getting known and building a collective but it is worth it because we will not carry the baggage and image KOALA had, plus we are organizing from an initial intersectional lens rather than being animal lib first and then trying to sort out out to mess in other social justice issues.

I am really excited for all of this, even if my mental health has been a huge blockade this past month.

Anyways, I am in an experimental course this term about the World of Birds and I just wanted to share my working idea on my research essay that I find super interesting! Plus, there is nothing of the sort out there already so maybee I can muster up some secret energy and make something of this opportunity.

So I have done some cursory research into conflict between humans and geese. The conflict is well documented in several well-known newspapers but given less attention in academic works. I plan to address themes raised in my initial idea such as: urban ecology, pest species, constructions and speciesism. I am going to centre-in on Canadian Geese and the attitudes directed towards them, mostly relating to the need to exterminate them. There are very interesting opinions on how to deal with this *pest* species, such as various displacing strategies, killing them to supply food banks in the United States or eradicating them as a part of wildlife management. There are also industrial products marketed towards individual eradication of geese that fall outside of the legal scope. These points are connected to the legal status of Geese in Canada.  Currently they fall under the Migratory Birds Convection Act, however, most geese in Canada are not migratory (populations have shifted since the act came into effect). What this suggests is a huge gap between reality and the legal system thus creating a space for abuse and individual management of geese.

My research question/framing:

For my term project I am going to look into attitudes towards Canadian Geese in Canada and the United States. Geese are an iconic species in Canada yet underlying the nationalist pride is a well-thought out and accepted management program towards controlling and exterminating the unruly ‘pests’. The prevailing discourse used by citizens, legislators and official government documentations focuses on goose droppings injuring the aesthetic of the urban spaces as the as primary rationale behind these programs and attitudes. Using Nigel Thrift’s concept of ‘non-representation’ the seemingly mundane interactions between humans and geese everyday become more significant and meaningful to understand speciesism, constructions of ‘nature’, human relations towards nonhuman animals and the larger issue of humans presumed domination over nature.

I got really excited about all of this tonight, and feel good and re-charged. I have missed this driven feeling.

Food as a Feminist Project: Decolonizing Bodies Through Veganism

I wrote this essay as an assignment for a class through Athabasca University in Alberta for The Anthropology of Gender. I wanted to post it here to possibly get feedback, start a conversation or just to highlight on my blog as it is a very important connection between colonialism, settlers and *food*. I am writing from a white institutionally educated cis-gendered femme queer female perspective so I really want to emphasize these are not my words nor thoughts but a presentation of vegans of colours views. I cannot claim to know, or ever know the complexity between marginalized racialized identities so please seek out the women I cite for more emphasize on the points. 


(more…)

The World of Birds

I am fortunate enough this term to take a class all about the world of birds. I am excited that this course allows for us to really think about the social constructions that are the backdrop to existences. We will be approaching birds through three lens: nature, society and arts and humanities. Particularly exciting is that this course endorses an ethno-ornithological perspective. I am most familiar with ethno-primatology, discussed at length by Augstin Fuentes and other critical primatologists. Seeing and doing this methodological and approach first hand is something that I thought I wouldn’t get out of my undergrad!

There was a particular image my professor used in the beginning lecture that highlighted various perspectives on a particular species. There was the settler, colonist, indigenous, tourist, global citizien, local etc. perspective presented and all of them were significantly different from eachother and focused on different aspects and subjectivity of the birds. It was such a great image to see in a lecture. It reaffirmed my love and hopes for academia to not be a suffocating and disconnected pathway.

Anyways, I will be sure to post more about this class and my ‘re-discovery’ and re-valorization of birds in my life.

A short sojourn away..but I am back!

Hello again!
flowerfistjpg
I am realizing I have not posted on here for a bit (nearing a month!). I have completed my class with Dr. Anne Dagg. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had this opportunity to explore this literature with Anne, Our conversations regarding the literature has enabled me to think deeper on many levels, as well as feel re-affirmed in my pursuit. I have unlocked an entire canon of literature, scholars and activists (most are S + A) that makes academia not so daunting and exhausting. I am really excited to continue does this pathway and calling myself a Critical Animal Studies scholar. 

A change I have noticed in my day-to-day life from this class has been B) my ability to bring up food politics causually and indirectly guide people into conversations so it does not seem like I am forcing them into the conversation and B) my frustration with myself and other activists in how we do activism and outreach. Language is powerful, or as my Zine-partner Holly says “Loaded Pistols”. For example, Kim Socha is dedicating time and energy to form more sophisticated ways of engagement dialogue. It is easy to be dismissive when you are talking to someone who JUST ISN’T GETTING IT, but sometimes that can enforce or is subconsciously under the guise of the dualism superior/inferior. Therefore, spending real time and effort in creating more sophisticated responses to what may initially be an ignorant comment but seeing the intention behind it and an opportunity to have real talk. Iwas dining with my family the other day and they asked me if I would eat “canned peaches” or anything canned for that matter because of the manufacturing process. Instead of getting my stomach in a knot, I took this as a chance to emphasize mass-production and manufacturing is a huge part of our western society and brought into question vegans seeing themselves as “ethical” when in reality, a lot of the time our consuming and purchasing habits are only ethical to ‘non-human animals’ in a direct way and fails to address ethical concerns for human animals. We are still hurting animals by relying on raw materials, consumer patterns, waste practices etc. and we are still eating and practicing lifeways that are oppressive to folks. 

Finding space in day-to-day spaces to bring up concerns related to a Total Liberation Framework becomes easier by the day. 

Anyways, I have not posted in a while but there are some lingering posts I have wanted to make including:
-my time at The People’s Social Forum in Ottawa
-last bit of notes from the summer course
-organizing with KOALA and how now KOALA is in retirement 
-a conference called “Endangered turtle & Poisonous pipes: No Pipelines on Turtle Island! 
-my new job that involves me exploring the raw vegan world of cuisine and practice
-probably some other stuff! 

in solidarity and action,
S

pulsating thoughts

Some thoughts reading pattrice jones…

  • animal liberation is a feminist project. you can make sense of this by tracing similarities of experiences which include arguments that to be female, or nonhuman animal is to be less rationale, restricted by biology, reduced to bodies as well as the dismembering of bodies into commodities 
  • use these, develop these as highlights that are good rallying points such as:
    Milk: exploitation of reproductive capacities
    Parenting: “they make us have pups, then steal them, maim them, poison them, we never see them again” 
    Cockfighing- roosters are perverted in order to subscribe to humancentric notions of masculinity thus perpetuating opposition sexism as genetically founded  
    Domestic violence-control, companion animals
  • how to go about action?
    -our experiences, our bodies, OURSELVES 
    -resist seeking power, resist turning to hierarchy: everyone contributes work that is necessary, not one person is central, remember to do work to dissolve power rather than to seize it (no liberals) 
    -focus on destabilizing but remember to build anew
  • with liberation instead of falling into the trap of the ‘damsel in distress’ fantasy; we could spend time with animals, an act of infiltration, to ground our actions in their hopes and experiences rather than our fantasies and theories, or response to animals that are resisting where ever they are, for example failed attempts at escaping 

    demand that we learn to live with the feelings that awareness of such realities brings and take appropriate action” pattrice jones

     

The introduction from Fear of the Animal Planet.

I wish everything was available online, but at least there is this introductory essay Let us Now Praise Infamous Animals in Fear of the Animal Planet: The Hidden History of Animal Resistance. 

This piece introduced me to a piece of history I had no idea about. Engendering this history gives awareness to a time that nonhuman animals were worthy of justice & punishment, and had agency and were pre-determinant in their actions. I have been trying to understand why medieval & pre-industrial Europe practiced animal trials. I have considered the following reasons:
a)stimulate a slow economy
b)scapegoat and protect the actual criminals
c)legacy of animistic rituals
d)public displays of punishment to deter potential-criminals & animals were easy to make a spectacle about

I could keep jotting down potential explanations, but because I am trying to remove my thinking from purely a socio-economical-political understanding, I want to side with that in pre-industrial society relationships with nonhuman animals were different. People spent much more time around animals, in direct contact, as well as had more opportunities to see them apart of the broader landscape in society as animals were often free to roam. They saw their their ability to have agency and thus were culpable. 

*I just found this essay on line documenting Animal Trials. I will read in a bit, and perhaps they offer more compelling evidence to suggest the purpose and roles of these trials. 
 

Shrine Circus @ Paris, Ontario

10245578_10201382821411828_6265916433557368039_nThe Shrine Circus is coming to Paris, Ontario this weekend. They, like all traveling circuses have a long history of despicable care and treatment for the performers including: failure to provide proper basic necessities like veterinary care, shelter, food, and water and visible animal abuse when they refused to perform. A cursory google search documents several acts of resistance in Canada by the Shrine circuses animals are available. In 1990, a 600 pound tiger escaped for 10 minutes terrifying the audience and trainers; in 1997 an elephant who was giving rides bit and knocked down a trainer during their performance; in 1988 an elephant several injured her trainer; in 1978 an elephant, chained, picked up her trainer and threw him resulting in fatal injuries.

Scanning through their website, they definitely invested time and effort into maintaining public relations and presenting their animals as if they are loved and care for as well as defending the role of circuses in society, and especially as educational tools for children.

Without circuses, families around the world would rarely be able to witness exotic animals in an up-close environment.  Not only can people witness the beauty of these animals, the animals act as ambassadors by educating the masses about their intellect, agility, strength and personality.

Circuses have been crucial partners in developing captive breeding programs, veterinary research projects and behavioral understanding of many exotic and endangered species.  Without this valuable information and the cooperation that many circuses have with conservation initiatives, many of these species would have simply been lost to history. [lets not talk about how circuses and other entertainment/research industries are directly responsible for exotic animals no longer being able to live outside of institutions]

This website is dedicated to showing a side of the story that very few get to see… the truth about the dedication, love, trust and commitment that these animal share with their human partners.  Too often the public falls prey to the misleading and inflammatory information against circuses and other animal exhibitors which is presented by certain animal special interest groups.”

I really like the last line. Let us remember who are the ones profiteering sickeningly off of the exploitated labour and abuse of nonhuman animals?

This is taken directly from the Facebook event page:
“Please join Marineland Animal Defense, Niagara Animal Defense League, Kitchener Ontario Animal Liberation Alliance, Toronto ADL, Hamilton/Halton Animal Liberation Team and the Coalition for Circus Animal Freedom for a demonstration against the Shrine Circus in Paris, On on Friday August 1st.

In response to mass protest in 2012 the Shrine Circus brought their touring schedule down to 5 cities from 22. They are now trying to again expand and it is time to remind the Shriners that bullhooks and captive animal performance will not be tolerated!

The Shrine Circus has long lied about the motives claiming that they are fundraising efforts for the Shrine Hospital. This is demonstrably false as the Circus itself is run by a 3rd party (TZ Productions/USA) and the left over funds go back to the local autonomous Shriner club and not the distinct and separate Shrine Hospitals.

Enough with the lies – we will never compromise!

Signs and outreach information will be provided. Please dress appropriately. We aim to make the events kid friendly.

We intend to have a presence at all shows if possible. Let us know your schedules. Show times are below, we plan to be out an hour and half before each show.

August 1 – 7:00 pm / August 2nd – 11:30am, 3:30pm, 7:00pm, / August 3rd – 12:30pm, 4:30pm / August 4th – 12:30pm, 4:30pm.”

Animals resisting: The Case of the Swift Fox at the Alberta Tar Sands

This news story makes me very happy: 
 

The Swift Fox has somehow been getting into the cafeteria-style lunch room every night and having “unpleasant-smelling” bowel movements on countertops, tables and in the metal serving trays used for hot meals.

 

The little fox is causing quite the disturbance for the Tar Sand staff in Alberta. Apparently worthy of being called an “eco-terrorist” according to Buck Carter, the Production Manager at Shell’s sprawling Albion surface mining operation. This story is admirable and certaintly an example of the media reporting on animal resistance. She or him, is not getting into the food, or eating the bait (who knows what the bait may contain…) but merely coming by and defecating. It would be foolish to discredit their agency in this. 

I hope the little one keeps it up, and hope to hear more glorious news from them. All the best animal resistor!