Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Sorry this is long-winded - too long in the vegan/AL wilderness ;-)
I'm a vegan living in rural NSW (Australia). It was moving back to my rural childhood roots after 20 years living in cities that caused me to switch from carnivore to vegan about 3-4 years ago. My turning point is probably similar to a lot of people's stories. I was staying for a while on my sister's rented farmhouse (surrounded by a working sheep/cattle farm) when I befriended and cared for a number of orphaned lambs and my sisters adopted budgies (free flight). Though we'd had 'pets' as kids it wasn't til moving back to the country that I had a chance to befriend other animals which led to the embarrassingly and ashamedly belated realisation that all animals are individuals/persons, regardless of species. So I started reading up more on animal issues. Reading Bob Torres book ‘Making a Killing’ while sitting in an airport sipping a dairy cappuccino was the clincher - I pushed the drink away and have never looked back. I have however wrestled with vegan/AR isolation, unending unanswered questions, and career paralysis as a result.
I work as a sociologist at Charles Sturt University (http://www.csu.edu.au/faculty/arts/humss/staff/helen_masterman_smit...) and have focussed on social justice questions (esp. labour/class/feminist research) most of my career. About five years ago I started taking environmental sociology material more seriously due to climate change impacts on workers and through that discovered ‘sociology of animals’ material. Since then I’ve been reorienting my work and activism (as a longstanding trade unionist) to a non-anthropocentric, non-speciesist framework – easier said than done. All tangled up in ‘entanglements thesis’ at the moment. My efforts to move a motion at trade union council on the use of animals in higher education was highly controversial and has borne little fruit so far (still working on it though) and my first academic paper on speciesism and labour history upset quite a few of the old guard – a steep learning curve. I guess the question I’m most grappling with is how to talk to workers about these issues, without them thinking I’m off with the pixies, and how to build a labour politics that is eco/biocentric – ie., doesn’t have humans at the centre – tough call in the trade union movement – perhaps impossible. Let you know how I get on and look forward to getting to know the other members on this site. Especially keen to learn about any practical headway being made on alliance building. The ‘capitalism and speciesism’ podcast is terrific food for thought on this question. Cheers Helen.
Hi Helen, Welcome
No worries. Thanks
Hi Helen, nice to meet you. very interesting work being a sociologist I bet.. I took some Sociology in university, including sociology of the environment...really fascinating.
I think it's wonderful you wrote an academic paper on speciesism & labour history.....I hope one day I get to do something similar when I resume my studies.
talk to you soon!
Welcome to ARZone!
I'm looking forward to working with you on a podcast, and will be in touch with you ASAP.
Please let us know if there's anything we can help with in regard to ARZone and finding your way around.
All the best!