Human beings have long imagined their subjectivity, ethics, and
ancestry with and through animals, yet not until the mid-twentieth
century did contemporary thought reflect critically on animals'
significance in human self-conception. Thinkers such as French
philosopher Jacques Derrida, South African novelist J. M. Coetzee,
and American theorist Donna Haraway have initiated rigorous
inquiries into the question of the animal, now blossoming in a
number of directions. It is no longer strange to say that if
animals did not exist, we would have to invent them.
This interdisciplinary and cross-cultural collection reflects
the growth of animal studies as an independent field and the rise
of "animality" as a critical lens through which to analyze society
and culture, on a par with race and gender. Essays consider the
role of animals in the human imagination and the imagination of the
human; the worldviews of indigenous peoples; animal-human mythology
in early modern China; and political uses of the animal in
postcolonial India. They engage with the theoretical underpinnings
of the animal protection movement, representations of animals in
children's literature, depictions of animals in contemporary art,
and the philosophical positioning of the animal from Aristotle to
Derrida. The strength of this companion lies in its timeliness and
contextual diversity, which makes it essential reading for students
and researchers while further developing the parameters of the
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