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Critical Terms for Animal Studies

Animal Studies is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field devoted to examining, understanding, and critically evaluating the complex relationships between humans and
other animals. Scholarship in Animal Studies draws on a variety of methodologies to explore these multi-faceted relationships in order to help us understand the ways in which other animals figure in our lives and we in theirs. 

Bringing together the work of a group of internationally distinguished scholars, the contribution in Critical Terms for Animal Studies offers distinct voices and diverse perspectives, exploring significant concepts and asking important questions. How do we take non-human animals seriously, not simply as metaphors for human endeavors, but as subjects themselves? What do we mean by anthropocentrism, captivity, empathy, sanctuary, and vulnerability, and what work do these and other critical terms do in Animal Studies?

Sure to become an indispensable reference for the field, Critical Terms for Animal Studies not only provides a framework for thinking about animals as subjects of their own experiences, but also serves as a touchstone to help us think differently about our conceptions of what it means to be human, and the impact human activities have on the more than human world.

Read the introduction.

448 pages | 1 figure, 1 table | 6 x 9 | © 2018

Critical Terms

Biological Sciences: Natural History

Philosophy: General Philosophy

Reference and Bibliography


"Lori Gruen has created an intellectual cafe in which leading scholars offer their insight and wisdom, in incisive and stimulating entries, on topics central to animal studies, all the while incorporating intersections with feminist, postcolonial, disability, environmental, and anti-racist scholarship. Richly textured, inviting and empowering, this is a dream book for students, academics, and activists alike."

Carol J. Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat and Burger

"Lori Gruen, who is herself at the forefront of animal studies, has rounded up the leading scholars in the field, and together they have produced a text that will define the field for the next generation."

Dale Jamieson, New York University

"This book's standout feature is its analysis of animal studies terms across a wide array of disciplines and theoretical perspectives, ranging from anthropology and activism to biology and law. Although animal studies has been interdisciplinary from its beginnings, this volume considerably expands and deepens that interdisciplinary vision. Lori Gruen is a highly-recognized and well-respected scholar in the field and has brought together a superb mix of authors who represent the very best of the established discourse and the most exciting members of the new generation."

Matthew Calarco, California State University, Fullerton

"This volume provides an overview of the some of the most central—and some of the most contested—concepts in the rapidly emerging inter-disciplinary area of animal studies. Unlike handbooks and readers, Critical Terms for Animal Studies is not focused on a selection of definitive texts but rather on setting the terms of the language used in the field. The subject of animal studies is at a crucial stage, still being mapped out and defining itself, and this volume is very useful, given its conciseness, its all-star cast of contributors, and its breadth in providing a guide to some of the key ideas. Taken along with the editor’s introduction, which nicely situates the history of animal studies and lays out some vital strands and debates, I think many animal studies scholars will see this book as an anchor text.”

Colin Jerolmack, New York University

"This is the latest in Chicago's 'Critical Terms' series, containing an introduction and 29 contributed chapters edited by philosophy scholar Lori Gruen, who has published widely on ethics issues. Among the contributing authors to this volume are names familiar to academicians across disciplines, such as Peter Singer, Will Kymlicka, Barbara King, and Christine Korsgaard, as well as many others who represent the new generation of scholars in the burgeoning field of animal studies. Each essay is devoted to a particular 'term,' collectively covering a broad range of concerns with respect to the multifaceted interrelationships between humans and other animals...Recommended."


"Critical Terms is an exceptional collection with the potential to dispel countless assumptions about the field of Animal Studies, as well as break habits of thinking about animals: who they are, how they think and feel, and why they matter."

Thomas Doran | Isle

Table of Contents

Introduction • Lori Gruen
1 Abolition • Claire Jean Kim
2 Activism • Jeff Sebo and Peter Singer
3 Anthropocentrism • Fiona Probyn-Rapsey
4 Behavior • Alexandra Horowitz
5 Biopolitics • Dinesh Joseph Wadiwel
6 Captivity • Lori Marino
7 Difference • Kari Weil
8 Emotion • Barbara J. King
9 Empathy • Lori Gruen
10 Ethics • Alice Crary
11 Extinction • Thom van Dooren
12 Kinship • Agustín Fuentes and Natalie Porter
13 Law • Kristen Stilt
14 Life • Eduardo Kohn
15 Matter • James K. Stanescu
16 Mind • Kristin Andrews
17 Pain • Victoria A. Braithwaite
18 Personhood • Colin Dayan
19 Postcolonial • Maneesha Deckha
20 Rationality • Christine M. Korsgaard
21 Representation • Robert R. McKay
22 Rights • Will Kymlicka and Sue Donaldson
23 Sanctuary • Timothy Pachirat
24 Sentience • Gary Varner
25 Sociality • Cynthia Willett and Malini Suchak
26 Species • Harriet Ritvo
27 Vegan • Annie Potts and Philip Armstrong
28 Vulnerability • Anat Pick
29 Welfare • Clare Palmer and Peter Sandøe
List of Contributors

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