Support animals and spaces of care

Authors: Aleksandra Craine*, University of Kentucky
Topics: Animal Geographies, Disabilities
Keywords: animal geography, debility studies, support animals
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 28
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Sunaura Taylor’s book Beasts of Burden made an important intervention into the fields of debility studies and animal studies by illuminating the interconnectedness of the two forms of oppression, and their common path to liberation through ethics of care. However, critical animal geographers have not substantially engaged with the concept of debility. I argue for the inclusion of debility theories in animal geographies as a way to challenge the human-nonhuman divide. Through an example of recent news stories/moral panics, and legal scholarship on service and support animals I will show how animal/debility geography subverts the distinctions between public and private space, disability and ability, and the hierarchical ontologies of humans and animals. The public comments on the news stories concerning emotional support animals demonstrate how the ideas of ableness and animality are produced through relations in space. Ultimately, the animal/debility geography advocates for an ethic of care, along the lines of Taylor’s book.

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