Animal Studies Journal


Animals have increasingly become a subject of inquiry within the field of humanities and the attention given to their importance has been accompanied by a gradual academic shift away from a humanist framework toward a posthumanist one. It is necessary to note that humans are in a position to ask whether animals matter due to their institutional supremacy over non-human animals, which is affirmed by a binary separation of Homo sapiens and animals. The consequent deprivation of subjectivity of non-humans renders them largely subordinated to human interests, which has damaging ramifications. Inspired by Jane Goodall, this essay will explore the frameworks which govern these distinctions and which empower people to adjudge whether animals matter, and the assumptions behind this license. It will then explore the various discourses which have aimed at challenging human primacy, noting the limitations of posthumanist frameworks, concluding that it is ultimately necessary to shift the question of the animal in a different direction. Paradoxically, the privileged and dominant position of humanity is what makes animals matter in contemporary Australia, their vulnerability rendering them critically significant.