Animal Studies and Posthuman Studies are relatively new fields of study in the humanities, but Duke University Press already has a rich collection of scholarship.
If the critical import of the most recent issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, “Tranimalities,” can be narrowed to a single focal point, it is that the human/nonhuman distinction is inextricably tied to questions of gender and sexual difference. Issue editors and contributors collectively argue that to be human has meant taking a position in relation to sexual difference and becoming gendered (the English it, for example, has no personhood, as opposed to he and she), while to be forcibly ungendered or to become transgendered renders one’s humanness precarious. It can result in one’s status being moved toward the not-quite-human, the inhuman, the “mere” animal, or even toward death, toward a purportedly inanimate “gross materiality.” This issue explores the non/human in relation to transgender at an unprecedented level of detail and theoretical sophistication.
Also featured in the recent issue of TSQ is an interview with Mel Y. Chen. In her book Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect, Chen draws on recent debates about sexuality, race, and affect to examine how matter that is considered insensate, immobile, or deathly animates cultural lives. Toward that end, Chen investigates the blurry division between the living and the dead, or that which is beyond the human or animal. Animacies has been widely praised for its cutting-edge scholarship.
The Multispecies Salon edited by Eben Kirksey offers a new approach to writing ethnography. Plants, animals, fungi, and microbes appear alongside humans in this singular book about natural and cultural history. Anthropologists collaborate with artists and biological scientists to illuminate how diverse organisms are entangled in political, economic, and cultural systems. The book features recipes and art alongside scholarly essays.
Centering Animals in Latin American History, edited by Martha Few and Zeb Tortorici, brings a more historical approach to animal studies. The essays discuss topics ranging from canine baptisms, weddings, and funerals in Bourbon Mexico to imported monkeys used in medical experimentation in Puerto Rico. Some contributors examine the role of animals in colonization efforts. Others explore the relationship between animals, medicine, and health. The collection reveals how interactions between humans and other animals have significantly shaped narratives of Latin American histories and cultures.
Animal Studies meets Religious Studies in a forthcoming book from Donovan O. Schaefer, Religious Affects: Animality, Evolution, and Power. Placing affect theory in conversation with post-Darwinian evolutionary theory, Schaefer explores the extent to which nonhuman animals have the capacity to practice religion, linking human forms of religion and power through a new analysis of the chimpanzee waterfall dance as observed by Jane Goodall.
“Queer Inhumanisms,” the most recent issue of GLQ, edited by Dana Luciano and Mel Chen, features a group of leading theorists from multiple disciplines who decenter the human in queer theory, exploring what it means to treat “the human” as simply one of many elements in a queer critical assemblage. Contributors examine the queer dimensions of recent moves to think apart from or beyond the human in affect theory, disability studies, critical race theory, animal studies, science studies, ecocriticism, and other new materialisms. Essay topics include race, fabulation, and ecology; parasitology, humans, and mosquitoes; the racialization of advocacy for pit bulls; and queer kinship in Korean films when humans become indistinguishable from weapons. The contributors argue that a nonhuman critical turn in queer theory can and should refocus the field’s founding attention to social structures of dehumanization and oppression. They find new critical energies that allow considerations of justice to operate alongside and through their questioning of the human-nonhuman boundary.
We expect to publish more titles in this exciting new field. If you have a relevant manuscript, see our submissions guidelines for books here. Submissions guidelines for journals are found on their individual detail pages.