Animality/coloniality and the animal question

Authors: Ariel Otruba*, Moravian College, Jenny Isaacs*, Rutgers University
Topics: Animal Geographies
Keywords: Animality, decolonization, more-than-human geography, coloniality, race, COVID-19
Session Type: Virtual Lightning Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 2
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Joining efforts to “decolonize geography”, we offer ‘animality/coloniality’ as a heuristic device for analyzing asymmetrical power relations between humans and nonhumanity. The case of COVID-19 is used to demonstrate the complexity, problems, and dangers of deploying the category ‘animal’. By illustrating how competing ideas of animality are worked through each other in understandings of and responses to zoonotic viruses, we suggest that delinking animality/coloniality should begin with an embrace of the ‘alien’ Other as a pathogenic constituency. While the perennial animal question remains an important driver of new research in animal geographies, we caution that it should be taken up with reflexive, critical attention to one’s political purpose and situated location within (colonial) knowledge production.

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