[eDebate] An appeal for those interested in decent critical debate to vote for ag subs.

James K. Stanescu thescu
Wed May 7 21:00:25 CDT 2008

While we are making last minute appeals for votes, I wanted to send out one
for the ag subs topic.

This is going to focus on the critical ground that the agriculture topic
would provide. Now many of you out there who hates critiques are wondering
why they should care about K ground on a topic except to vote against topics
that provide K ground. Well, this repeats some points made earlier by
others, but people will run Ks regardless of the topic. What really you, if
you dislike Ks, have a choice on is if you want a topic that will encourage
more people to run affs that aren't topical, hell, not even germane. And
also encourage more people to run the same old Ks that bore everyone (come
on, do you really want to see/debate against another security K? Really?).

For the rest of you I think that agriculture provides us with the chance to
access many different kritiks, several of which are not easily or commonly
accessed in other resolutions. I am going to focus on one I know something
about, the issue of critical animal studies. Right now we are in an academic
explosion of writings from a critical tradition dealing with animals. It's
hip. Which for those of us who are in the humanities in the academy, knowing
something about it will certainly be helpful. More than that, I would also
contend it's important. There is a reason that so many major thinkers have
spent time on the question of the animal, and with the problem of humanism.
And at the same time that it is very hip, there is also something bizarrely
eternal about this question (at least within a western tradition). You can
read fragments from Heraclites making fun of Pythagoras about caring for
animals. Spinoza too made fun of vegetarians, and Nietzsche was very
conflicted on the issue of vegetarianism.

I think the literature we have on critical animal studies is exactly the
right type for good debates. It is deep without being impossibly so. I think
someone dedicated can read most, if not all, of the major texts on the
subject over the course of the year. More importantly, the literature is
comparative. It answers and critiques itself. It allows people to generate
offense, and for teams not interested in debating primarily about animals to
have specific answers if they wish. Indeed, while not talked about
specifically here, the literature base advocating anthropocentrism,
specisism, and the like is huge. Putting together an offensive frontline or
case neg would be relatively easy. However, the critical literature itself
provides nuance and different strategies.

What follows is by no means comprehensive. Many rather obvious works have
been left out, and obscure, questionably useful texts have been included.
What I wanted to do was sort of gesture to many of the critical
possibilities in exploring the question of the animal, especially focusing
on more recent (usually within the last five years) scholarship in critical
animal studies.

I also purposefully left out the rather large sources dealing with racism,
colonialism, and indigenous rights/cosmologies. Not because it isn't there,
indeed if there is interest I can generate a list for that, but because the
reparations make it sort of useless. Sure, the agriculture topic can access
those issues above, but the reparations topic probably does a better job.
Debate can't be everything to everyone (though it might be anything to
anyone), choices have to be made. I'm not going to insult anyone by trying
to convince them that those issues are best dealt with on an agricultural
topic.  Still, I'd hope ag would still get your second choice.

The lit overview.

First, let's start with Derrida. The last lecture series in his life,
Derrida spoke on "the question of the animal." The English translation of
those lectures are due out at the beginning of June. However, a large
excerpt of it has existed for a while, and can be read here.

Already a book-length treatment of Derrida's final lectures exist, done by
Leonard Lawlor in his 2007 *This Is Not Sufficient. *

Also, if you are interested in questions of theology, the topic of sacrifice
found in these works, and in the Luke book mentioned below are quite

* *

Furthermore, Agamben has taken up the question of the animal. It is implicit
his work on biopolitics done in the homo sacer series (and made explicit in
the 2003 pamphlet length book by Magnus Fiskesj? The Thanksgiving Turkey
Pardon, the Death of Teddy's Bear, and the Sovereign Exception of Guant?namo
http://www.prickly-paradigm.com/paradigm11.pdf ), Agamben gives it a book
length treatment in 2004 The Open: Man and Animal

While already a deep literature exists on this book, one article in
particular I'd like to highlight on Agamben's book is 2007 article by
Matthew Calarco, "Jamming the Anthropological Machine" (a 2006 version can
be read here
http://www.faculty.sbc.edu/mcalarco/JAMMINGTHEANTHROPOLOGICALMACHINE.htm and
thanks to Spurlock for being the first to show me this essay).

A large part of The Open is dedicated to a reading of Heidegger on animals.
(an interesting comparative look can be found in the 2008 article by Krzysztof
Ziarek "After Humanism" http://www.mediafire.com/?eymyjnvujwq ). Heidegger
addresses the issue of animals in many places, including Being and Time and
his "Letter on Humanism". However, the almost the entirety of rather large
book The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics is dedicated to thinking about
the difference between humans and animals. A good article on this is Stuart
Elden's 2006 "Heidegger's Animals" http://www.mediafire.com/?1t1jdvq10z4 )

The issue of the animal in the work of Derrida, Heidegger, Agamben, and
Levinas (or did I forget to mention there is a rather large literature base
about the issues of animals in the work of Levinas?) is the subject of
Matthew Calarco's forthcoming in June book, Zoographies.

Deleuze and Guattari are perhaps the first thinkers from the French scene to
really make a stir about animals in American academia. Their work on
becoming-animal, found in all four of their books written together, is also
the back bone of several works on becoming-animal that exist.

A wide variety of critical theorists are also dealt with in the literature
base. The following is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather to provide
just the basics for starting. Those interested in Nietzsche can check out
the 2004 Acampora edited work, A Nietzschean Bestiary: Becoming Animal
Beyond Docile and Brutal. Those interested in Walter Benjamin should check
out Beatrice Hanssen's Walter Benjamin's Other History. Those into
psychoanalysis (and other theorists) should check out Lippit's Electric
Animal. Those interested in French Feminism like Irigaray and Cixous (as
well as many other continental philosophers) should check out Calarco and
Atterton's 2004 edited Animal Philosophy: Essential Readings in Continental
Thought, it's very comprehensive.

Donna Haraway has recently turned her attention towards our relationship
with animals, particularly companion species. Her first work on this, her
very short 2003 The Companion Species Manifesto, has been expanded in a very
large and impressive 2007 When Species Meet
http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?cz2cytbt3zd . It contains criticisms
of both Derrida and Deleuze and Guattari, while at the same time being a
very smart argument in its own right. Also, she does her best to answer the
criticisms that Carol Adams brought against her first work in Adams' 2006
essay "An Animal Manifesto"

Speaking of Adams, her work is the cornerstone of bringing a certain type of
feminism and animal issues together. Her two most famous works on this
regard is her 1999 A Sexual Politcs of Meat and her 2004 The Pornography of
Meat. Her and other critical vegetarian feminist texts are meet well by
Brian Luke's 2007 Brutal: Manhood and the Exploitation of Animals.

 While there are many works dealing with anarchism/Marxism and animal
rights, one recent work deserves special mention. Bob Torres' 2007 Making A
Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights. This text is particularly
good because not only does it advance it's own arguments, it also critiques
both traditional anarchist/Marxist struggles and traditional animal rights

James K. Stanescu
Graduate Student
Binghamton University
Philosophy, Interpretation, and Culture

Assistant Debate Coach

"As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will also be battlefields."

"As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will also be battlefields."
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