Ear-Tag Cinema: Notes on Andrea Arnold’s Cow, by Dominic O’Key

Ear-Tag Cinema: Notes on Andrea Arnold’s Cow, by Dominic O’Key

Cow is a harrowing documentary about the lived reality of a dairy cow. But Arnold’s observational style might ultimately offer an apologia rather than an intervention. The camera hovers at head height, an animal its object of consideration. We peer into a cow’s eye, a deep black pool like a magic eight ball. The cow, now craning its neck upwards, looks into the clouded sky. Its yellow ear-tag flaps into view: number 201699. Sniffing, exhaling, the cow lowers itself onto the grass below. The camera goes down with the cow towards the dry…continue reading →

Shall We Go and Kill Us Venison?, by Emily Naish

Deer hunting is a restricted activity in England. It is not completely illegal to kill deer (or other wild animals), but there are various legislations that dictate when, where, and how they can be hunted. This even covers ‘welfare’ to protect animals from ‘deliberate acts of cruelty’: a hunter can legally shoot a deer during open season, but cannot ‘stab’ or ‘impale’ a wild mammal in a way that causes ‘unnecessary suffering’.[1] The legislation around hunting attempts to straddle the perceived rights of both humans (to hunt) and animals (to not suffer) in…continue reading →
Writing the Environmental Crisis at Sea: Tangibility and the Potential of the Jellyfish, by Rosanne van der Voet

Writing the Environmental Crisis at Sea: Tangibility and the Potential of the Jellyfish, by Rosanne van der Voet

I open my laptop, smoothening out the corners of my notebook. A logical list of tasks forms itself in my head, in a word document. But the page keeps shifting, slowly slipping away as I try to pin it down. My mind keeps drifting off into a sea of other thoughts, where terrestrial logic dissipates. As I think of that watery being, my hands follow a tentacular path that does not stick to this rectangular page space. Ever more strangely, a fluidity overflows these words, spills their ink into the margins of this…continue reading →
The best argument against veganism, by Josh Milburn

The best argument against veganism, by Josh Milburn

A few years ago, I was flicking through a book called The Moral Complexities of Eating Meat. It contains lots of great essays, but one title in particular caught my eye – Donald Bruckner’s ‘Strict Vegetarianism is Immoral’. I remember being sceptical. I’d read plenty of arguments saying that we don’t have to be vegan – most of them pretty terrible – but it’s hard to think of an argument saying that it’s wrong to be vegan. Maybe (I remember thinking) it was going to forward a trite religious argument, saying that we…continue reading →

Examining Animal Activism, by Katharina Braun

Who are animal activists?[1] Animal ethics is a thriving field of research, which results in increasing knowledge about the goals and methods of animal activists. But how do animal activists promote their goals? And how do their strategies relate to the law and democracy? In this blog post I highlight possible criteria that may assist in discussing the strategies of animal activists as well as their moral, legal and societal implications. Shedding light on animal activism is not just of academic interest. Animal activists constantly debate which goals and strategies to pursue. Should…continue reading →
The Meanings of Anti-vaccination in Edward Carpenter’s Anti-vivisection Writings, by Mo O’Neill

The Meanings of Anti-vaccination in Edward Carpenter’s Anti-vivisection Writings, by Mo O’Neill

Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) was an essayist, poet and activist who lived on the border between Derbyshire and Sheffield. My thesis unpicks aspects of his extensive body of work which reach beyond the parameters of the human, including his animal rights advocacy and his broader vision of a multispecies, sexually liberated socialist utopia. At present, I am working on a chapter exploring Carpenter’s anti-vivisection advocacy, a major area of his pro-animal thought. Within this research, I am also encountering many of Carpenter’s ideas on anti-vaccination. Carpenter’s critique of vaccination is mostly articulated across his…continue reading →
“Two legs good, four legs bad” :  Exposing speciesism and hypocrisy in the theoretical and practical conception of human rights, by Charlotte Flores

“Two legs good, four legs bad” : Exposing speciesism and hypocrisy in the theoretical and practical conception of human rights, by Charlotte Flores

We value our rights to autonomy, life, and wellbeing; we protect these rights because we believe all humans deserve them, but whether we exclusively deserve rights is questionable. Human rights are conceptually universal and regulated through governmental bodies and social leverage; they were created with the goal of promoting equality and protecting human interests. Unfortunately, by preserving our implementation of human rights, we may inadvertently make "a powerful statement about human capabilities and potential"[1]. In enacting and maintaining these privileges, we continuously fail to combat, address, or adequately mitigate the charge of 'speciesism.'…continue reading →

Another Look at the Jellyfish, by Rachel Murray

Figure 1. Jellyfish washed ashore in Italy. Wikimedia Commons Towards the end of H. G. Wells’s science fiction novella ‘The Time Machine’ (1895), a Victorian scientist travels thirty million years into the future, where he is confronted with a dying world: ‘All the sounds of man, the bleating of sheep, the cries of birds, the hum of insects, the stir that makes the background of our lives—all that was over.’ Standing on an empty beach beneath a fading sun, he detects a final sign of movement: It was a round thing, the size…continue reading →
The Logic of Extinction: The Story of the Dutch Alcon Blue Butterfly, by Rosanne van der Voet

The Logic of Extinction: The Story of the Dutch Alcon Blue Butterfly, by Rosanne van der Voet

Meijendel, summer of 1942.[1] A faint golden sun is shining through dark grey clouds, yellowing the green and white landscape of sand, bush and trees. Standing out within the mass of rose- and orange-dotted green, the cross gentians bloom. Brightly dancing in the wind, the deep blue flowers break the silence. Their display attracts innocent visitors, bringing out lepidopterists like Barend Jan Lempke. He watches the butterflies return to their host plant, sucking out nectar from the flowers. The grey-blue wings look pale next to the bright flowers, their black spots darting as…continue reading →
Hate Speech and Animals, by Josh Milburn

Hate Speech and Animals, by Josh Milburn

Here in the UK, as in many liberal democracies, there are laws against hate speech. The Public Order Act of 1986, for example, makes it a criminal offence to publish or distribute ‘written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting’, when intending ‘thereby to stir up racial hatred’ or ‘having regard to all the circumstances racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby’. Across many states, laws protect people from speech targeting their racial or ethnic origin; sexuality, sex, or gender; disability status; and so on. No such law protects individuals targeted…continue reading →