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Species MattersHumane Advocacy and Cultural Theory$
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Michael Lundblad and Marianne DeKoven

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231152839

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231152839.001.0001

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Archaeology of a Humane Society

Archaeology of a Humane Society

Animality, Savagery, Blackness

(p.75) 4 Archaeology of a Humane Society
Species Matters

Michael Lundblad

Columbia University Press

This chapter explores the complex and even mutually constitutive relationship between humane reform and race relations in America at the end of the nineteenth century. In linking animality to savagery and blackness, it highlights the ways humane advocacy for animals can be and has been used as a way to further demonize already denigrated human groups. It shows how African Americans were often associated with “savagery,” rather than animality, and therefore were placed even lower than animals on a racist hierarchical scale of value. Such designation was used as a justification for the lynching of African Americans so rampant at the end of the nineteenth century: the same moment that the humane movement was born in the United States. Whereas whites were seen as capable of compassion and advocacy for animals, African Americans, as savage, were seen as incapable of such humane sentiment. In light of this distinction between “animal” and “savage,” the chapter argues that the notion of humane advocacy for animals produced devastating social and political effects in its foundational moment.

Keywords:   humane reform, race relations, America, animality, savagery, blackness, animals, African Americans, humane movement

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