Call for Papers: Animal Rights in the Wake of Deepwater Horizon

Monday, July 5th, 2010

In-Memory-of-All-That-Is-Lost: An Oil Spill Cemetery in Grand Isle, Louisiana, on You Tube.

The above video depicts an “oil spill cemetery” erected by Grand Isle, LA resident Patrick Shay in his front yard. The art installation/protest includes dozens of white crosses, each standing waist high and bearing the name of something (or someone) – an animal species, activity, item or foodstuff – that’s been impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil “spill.” The “deceased” include: the beach, sand, a walk on the beach, seagulls, diving, sharks, birdwatching, star gazing, shrimp, shrimp scampi, shrimp omelette, shrimp cocktail, shrimping, oyster boats, oyster Rocherfeller, summer fun, sandcastles, family time, frogs croaking, marsh, brown pelican, sea turtles, dolphins, redfish, crabbing, boiled crabs, stuffed crabs, fish fry, seafood gumbo, and our soul. Shots of individual crosses in the cemetery are interspersed with footage of the local beaches as they look now.

More than any news coverage I’ve witnessed since (the cemetery was erected and reported on in early June), this graveyard embodies the disconnect between humans’ expressed empathy for the nonhuman victims of the oil spill – and our actions toward them, before, during and (no doubt) after the Gulf disaster. For example, the inclusion of “food” animals in the cemetery is rather ironic; had they not perished or become otherwise “polluted” in the oil spill, “crabbers” and “fishermen” would have slaughtered these same shrimps, redfishes and crabs (etc.) by the millions. Absent the oil spill, these animals would have died anyway; Shay’s (et al.’s) tears are not for these animals themselves, but for the many products borne of their exploitation: seafood gumbo, oyster Rocherfeller and stuffed crabs. As someone who considers all animals equally worthy of consideration, I simply cannot join Mr. Shay in mourning a “way of life” that’s predicated upon taking the actual lives of others. Whether stolen by megacorp BP or by working-class fishermen, these mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons will never get their lives back.

Although I continue to follow the Deepwater disaster with a mix of horror, anger and grief, my empathy rests with the disaster’s (and the kyriarchy’s) perpetual victims – in this case, the millions of nonhuman animals to whom the Gulf Coast is home. The rest of us? We’re all complicit in this tragedy – and the billions of smaller, mostly-invisible tragedies that take place every single day – to varying degrees.

While many of vegans no doubt share similar feelings, our perspective is virtually nonexistent in mainstream coverage of the oil spill and its fallout. And so I was terribly excited to see the following call for papers posted on the NILAS mailing list. Crude Behavior: Animal Rights in the Wake of Deepwater Horizon will examine the oil spill, its short- and long-term effects, and public discourse surrounding these from an animal welfare/rights perspective. (I’m inclined to scream “Finally!,” but – doesn’t it seem a bit soon to be dissecting a disaster that’s still ongoing? Wev, I’ll scoop up a copy regardless of when it’s released.) Abstracts are due August 1st.

For more on the Deepwater Horizon disaster, please see BP Oil “Spill”: Animal Rescue, Disaster Relief, Action Alerts & Vegan Views, also at easyvegan.info.

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BP Oil "Spill": Animal Rescue, Disaster Relief, Action Alerts & Vegan Views

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Last updated 4/20/11 @ 11:00 AM CDT.


 
 
As with the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, I’ve decided to create a single blog post which will act as a sort of “hub” where I’ll post information, action alerts, newsletters, etc. related to the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Given that President Obama intends to push forward with previously announced plans to expand offshore drilling, there’s a special emphasis on action alerts that address fossil fuels and/or their place in proposed climate change legislation. Where appropriate, I’ve also included information on what you can do to help meet immediate disaster relief needs in the Gulf Coast region.
 
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