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Editor’s Introduction

Astute readers might have noticed that it has been a year since the publication of the last volume. Sloths have never been lauded for their speed, and this Sloth is no exception, but we trust that you’ll find this Winter 2019 volume to be worth the wait! We bring to you four new essays from emerging scholars in Human-Animal Studies: two sociological, one historical, and one work of literary analysis. Together, they represent some of the finest work in Human-Animal Studies by undergraduate and Master’s students.

In “Animals as Social Subjects: Toward Inclusive Social Interaction,” Sariyah Mohammed argues that, as a discipline, sociology has too long been too human, largely understanding society as constituted by and for humans and social relations as necessarily human relations. Mohammed challenges sociology’s anthropocentric assumptions, arguing that society is partly constituted by animals not merely as objects, but also as social subjects. Such a move is necessary not only because many nonhuman animals are inextricably tied to social settings, argues Mohammed, but also because sociological theories not accounting for all social subjects are at best incomplete. Mohammed concludes that, for sociology to take this lesson to heart, its methodology must shift to what Gordon Burghardt calls “critical anthropomorphism.” The second sociological piece is Ayesha Saeed’s “The ‘Other’ in the Context of Human Slavery & Genocide and Current Nonhuman Animal Industrial Systems.”  Saeed argues that, despite the need for attentiveness to differences between the two historically marginalized groups, there are central parallels between human slavery and animal exploitation. She identifies similar patterns of behavior and justifications for the behavior for both groups. In this light, the comparison of these two forms of oppression is not only legitimate, but mutually illuminating.

The historical piece is brought to you by Nicole Maceira Cumming. In “The Relationship Between Meat Consumption and Power in Late Medieval and Early Modern England,” Cumming argues that the frequency and type of meat consumption as well as the beliefs corresponding to this practice reflected one’s standing in the social hierarchy in England’s late medieval and early modern periods. These practices as exemplified in newly emerging meat markets were a social signifier of power and social standing. Cumming’s work reminds the reader that meat-eating and surrounding practices have a long history of not only embodying power relations between humans and animals, but also amongst humans themselves.

The final piece we bring to you is a work of literary analysis and criticism by Vita Sleigh titled “The Farm Myth: Fantasy Farms, Factory Farming.” Despite the attention that academics, activists, and the media have brought to factory farming, an idyllic image of farming persists in children’s literature. Sleigh documents the glossy portrayals of farm life in several children’s books, helping solidify cultural myths that help obscure the realities of industrial animal agriculture.

Lastly, there have been several changes to the Sloth editorial crew.

Richie Nimmo, who served as Co-Editor in chief for the past few years, has recently left our staff due to other commitments. This issue is dedicated to Richie. Our gratitude goes out to him for all the hard work and good judgment that he brought to Sloth! We wish him all the best in his future pursuits.

Joel MacClellan (Loyola University New Orleans, Philosophy) now serves as Editor-in-Chief and is joined by several new and returning Associate Editors: Elizabeth “Liz” Clancy, (NYU Langone Medical Center, Research Administrator), Alastair Hunt (Portland State University, English), Kara Kendall-Morwick, (Washburn University, English) Maria Lux (Whitman College, Art) Seven Mattes (Michigan State University,  Anthropology), Mariana Olsen (Montana State University, Psychology), Jonathan Sparks-Franklin (Indiana University, Religious Studies), and Elizabeth Tavella, University of Chicago, Italian). Katheryn Lawson (University of Delaware, History) still serves as our Copy Editor.

We trust that this new editorial staff will see Sloth sustainably into the future and will help improve the manuscript review and revision process for all parties.

Back to Sloth Vol. 5, No. 1

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