A Conversation on Animals, Colonialism, and Disability with Chloë Taylor and Kelly Struthers Montford

  • 15 Oct 2021
  • 17:00
  • Online via Zoom & YouTube Live Stream

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In recent years, scholars working at the intersection between critical disability studies, postcolonial theory and critical animal studies have argued that the oppression of animals, people with disabilities and Indigenous peoples are interconnected.

The common thread between these oppressions is what Maneesha Deckha calls the paradigmatic human person, that is, an ideal abled-bodied and rational (hu)man subject who is white, “civil,” and autonomous. The field of animal ethics in itself has been structured around the notion of the paradigmatic human person, whose properties are regarded as most valuable morally speaking. It is because humans have properties like reason, autonomy (in a cognitive sense), and human language that more-than-human animals and people with cognitive disabilities have been situated outside the moral circle. Similarly, when British settlers colonised Australia, Australia was regarded as terra nullius (nobody’s land) because Aboriginal peoples were not regarded as “civil” enough, that is, they were not considered as people who inhabited Australia.

Chloë Taylor and Kelly Struthers Montford will walk us through some of these insights and interconnections, and tell us in what ways our political systems are still structured by colonialism, ableism, and anthropocentrism. We will also explore some of the key concepts in the fields of critical animal studies (CAS henceforth), critical disability studies and postcolonial theory (e.g., vulnerability, sovereignty, territory, and dependency), and whether these notions bring to the fore ethico-political dimensions that are often absent in sentientist logics. At the end, we will look at the history of CAS, and try to understand why the aforementioned concepts have traditionally been undermined in this field.

About the Speakers

Chloë Taylor is Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Alberta. She is the author of three monographs and the co-editor of five books. Most recently, she and Kelly Struthers Montford have co-edited Building Abolition: Decarceration and Social Justice (Routledge 2021); Disability and Animality: Crip Perspectives in Critical Animal Studies (Routledge 2020); and Colonialism and Animality: Anti-Colonial Perspectives in Critical Animal Studies (Routledge 2020). Chloë is currently completing a co-authored book with Kelly Struthers Montford, Abnormal Appetites: Agricultural Power, Food Politics, and the Anthropocene (McGill-Queens University Press 2023), and beginning work on a new edited volume, The Routledge Companion to Gender and Animals (Routledge 2023). She is also writing her fourth monograph, Intersections of Animality, and is in the early stages of projects on zoonosis and extinction. She and Vasile Stanescu co-founded the North American Association for Critical Animal Studies.


Kelly Struthers Montford is Assistant Professor of Criminology at X University in Toronto, Canada. Her research bridges settler colonial studies, punishment and captivity, animal studies, and law, and has been published in Animal Studies Journal, the Journal of Food Policy and Law, Radical Philosophy Review, the New Criminal Law Review, PhiloSophia: a journal of continental feminism, and the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, amongst others. Kelly is the co-editor of two Critical Animal Studies collections that were published in 2020 with Routledge: Disability and Animality: Crip Perspectives in Critical Animal Studies (with Stephanie Jenkins and Chloë Taylor), and Colonialism and Animality: Anti-Colonial Perspectives in Critical Animal Studies (with Chloë Taylor). With Chloë Taylor, Kelly is the co-editor of a recently published volume, Building Abolition: Decarceration and Social Justice (Routledge 2021).

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