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Article series: the first guest lecture on the 5th of March at the class “Critical Animal and Media Studies”, by Zipporah Weisberg

Article series: the first guest lecture on the 5th of March at the class “Critical Animal and Media Studies”, by Zipporah Weisberg

19.03.2019

 

On the 5th of March 2019, at the class ‘Critical Animal and Media Studies’, three guest lectures provided three very interesting presentations on three different subjects. Below you can read about the first lecture, given by Zipporah Weisberg, an independent scholar and animal liberation activist. She started with a lecture about her experience in an animal sanctuary and the theories behind her thoughts on the power of animal sanctuaries.

 

In the first part of her lecture, she focused on where we, as humankind, are at the moment: “in the midst of an ecological, social and moral catastrophe”. According to Weisberg, human activity, driven by capitalism, has led to the biological annihilation of over half of species on earth in past 40 years. As examples she mentioned the deforestation in Amazon Rainforest in Northern Brazil or all the animals dying of plastic around the world.

 

She went deeper into some theories of animal ethics, and explained for instance Animal Exterminationism, which describes how animals - living, breathing, feeling, loving desiring beings - have been reduced to a commodity form, to instruments for research, and objects of entertainment. She also explained about Barbara Noske’s Animal Industrial Complex: a massive global industrialized system of productive destruction, comprising the pharmaceutical, agricultural, entertainment and other industries, which involves the confinement, enslavement, torture and murder of billions upon billions of domesticated animals every year, for profit.

 

Following on this, she stated that “Capitalism is a dirty and evil system”, since it alienates ourselves from products processes of labour, species-being and each other (Marx), but according to her, also from our own animal-being. Therefore, she claimed that we need to go in the arms of Eros, the Greek god of erotic love. By doing this, we can find what is missing in capitalism: love as a fundamental creative impulse that has a sensual element (based on Plato).

 

This contrast strongly with the way humans exploit animals, which is, according to Weisberg, a perversion of love. After all, one cannot murder a loved one. What we would rather need is a sensitive, sensual nurturing and caring type of love; the one that is found in sanctuaries. Or, how Weisberg also called it: love for the helpless one. She mentions for example that in a big, capitalistic farm, small pigs drinking from the mother is a extremely stressful and dangerous activity, while in a sanctuary it actually is a peaceful and loving process.

 

Weisberg's papers can be found on this website: https://queensu.academia.edu/ZipporahWeisberg.

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