Editor’s Introduction: Sloth Vol. 6, No. 1

With 2020 slowly progressing and spring in the northern hemisphere gradually warming us from winter’s slumber, we are pleased to bring you this latest volume of Sloth. Here we have five new pieces of the highest quality from emerging scholars in Human-Animal Studies: two literary, one historical, one ethological, and in what is sure to be a Sloth first, one architectural. Our team of editors is proud to deliver this batch of the latest in HAS scholarship by undergraduates and early career graduate students.

We are especially proud to bring you Abigail Weinberg’s “Centering the Sloth in an Early Modern Map of Peru”, given that the paper features our journal’s namesake animal and flagship species. Somewhat like Umberto Eco’s Kant and the Platypus (1997), Weisenberg shows how 16th century European geographers struggled to categorize novel animal forms emerging from Colonial outposts, such as the sloth from Peru. They designating sloths as monstrosities, forcing them to conform to anthropocentric norms that preserved the assumed human-animal dichotomy, and also invoking denigrating gendered and racial depictions. Weinberg has just graduated from New York University with undergraduate degrees in Journalism and Spanish. Congratulations, Abigail!

Next, we present Jerome Lim Jit How’s work, “Pick a Pack: Animal Companionship and Shifting Identities in Andrew Marvell’s The Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Faun”. He brings us an analysis of this 17th century poet’s work, drawing on the conceptual frames of Judith Butler and Donna Haraway concerning grief and animal companionship. He also folds in discussions of Platonic love, the nature of the soul, and theology as featured in the work of the renowned English metaphysical poet. A Singaporean scholar of English and Literature, Jerome Lim Jit How has now completed his MPhil in Modern & Contemporary Literature from Cambridge (with Distinction), and is back in Singapore working for the Ministry of Education.

In her paper “Cultures of Interspecies Cetacean Groups”, Julie Gardella rebuts the claim that only humans have cultures. She does so by interrogating conceptions of culture in relation to two cetacean case studies of interspecies relations: false killer whales and bottlenose dolphins’ cooperative hunting groups and play between bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales. Gardella argues that these cases are best understood as instances of interspecies culture, rejecting the traditional notion that culture is exclusively a human domain. Julie Gardella holds a B.A. in environmental studies from New York University and has a special interest in animal ethology. Ms. Gardella is currently in Anchorage, AK, participating in the Alaska Fellows Program at University of Alaska Center for Economic Development.

Mikhaila Bishop’s “‘All Animals Are Equal’: Animal Farm in the Anthropocene” examines the Orwellian Animal Farm (1945). She develops a literary analysis of this classic text from an ecocritical perspective and uses this as a springboard for an argument for animal rights. Bishop is a recent alumna of Portland State University’s English program with an interest in environmental studies and is currently a writer and environmental advocate.

In “The Unseen Labor Force: Animal Agriculture Under Global Capitalism”, Ruby Sleigh analyzes the ways in which the physical infrastructure in the British dairy industry exploits marginalized peoples and animals in pursuit of profit in ways reminiscent of Timothy Pachirat’s Every 12 Seconds (2011), but from an architectural perspective rather than that of an  ethnographer. Sleigh now holds an MSc in architecture from Delft University of Technology and now works as an architectural assistant in London.

Behind the curtains, last year’s big changes to the Sloth editorial crew have led us to calmer waters, and we have no changes to report. That said, we would like to welcome Gala Argent to ASI as she learns the ropes. Gala is ASI’s new Director of the Human-Animal Studies and helps publish Sloth to the server and promote the journal on the ASI website and beyond. Also, she is a HAS scholar herself, with a specialization in archaeology. Welcome, Gala!


Joel MacClellan, Editor-in-Chief, Sloth

Feb. 28, 2020


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