Intersections Interviews

Lori Gruen on the connections between animality and disability. Interview Discrimination and Disadvantage

Interview with philosopher Lori Gruen on the blog Discrimination and Disadvantage.

Short summary* of the interview. Lori Gruen talks about:

  • her background. How she was introduced to animal ethics in one of her undergraduate classes, and in graduate school, became involved in animal activism.
  • her activism in the early years in the animal rights movement
  • how working on a campaign that brought her in contact with members of the blind community, led her to do more ‘intersectional’ activism, and later on returning to graduate school to study feminist philosophy
  • her current work, teaching and writing on an array of topics: animal studies, ecofeminist philosophy, some philosophy of science and technology, and philosophy of race and racism.
  • some recent publications exploring the connections between animality and disability, eg. Animaladies, Gender, Animals & Madness (eds. Lori Gruen & Fiona Probyn-Rapsey)
  • the complexity of ‘the argument from marginal cases’
  • how love for animals is seen by some as a distortion or perversion of love, perhaps even a disability.
  • the work of Sunaura Taylor, Beasts of Burden,
  • her new forthcoming work together with Carol Adams and Lynda Birke one disabled animals
  • disabled goat Albie living at Woodstock sanctuary, alpaca Domino at VINE sanctuary, chimpanzee Knuckles at Center for Great Apes
  • on the lack of interdisciplinary acceptance (the lack of attention to the role of feministst within the field of animal ethics, and feminist, gender, and queer studies ignoring questions about our relationships with animals).
  • the slowly growing recognition of the philosophical importance of work on animals and on disability
  • how her writing on animals in captivity led her to also work with people who are incarcerated, and how she is now also writing and lecturing about dignity and disposability in the case of prisoners, both human and nonhuman (and their underlying logics that are mutually reinforcing)
  • how the notion of health that often gets linked to veganism can promote ableism and can lead to shaming of people with chronic health conditions, and about the books How not to Die and Even Vegans Die.
  • finally, a plea for more thinking about abolition, and some recommended books.

This interview was part of a series with disabled philosophers

Dialogues on Disability: Shelley Tremain Interviews Lori Gruen, Published on Discrimination and Disadvantage, September 19, 2018.

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen [ID: A thoughtful Lori looks at us questioningly, her head tilted slightly to her right. She is wearing glasses with multi-coloured frames and has long wavy silver hair. Leaves and shrubbery form the background of the shot.I] ID taken from Discrimination and Disadvantage – photo used with permission from Lori Gruen.
*The points mentioned above are just a brief summary of the interview, and in summarising, nuance and context might have gone lost. For full context and nuance, please read the full interview.

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