Category:Cultural Studies

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Introduction : Cultural Studies

A Cultural Studies approach to the examination of human-animal relations and the human/animal divide (as well as related binaries such as culture/nature, man/woman, mind/body, civilized/wild etc), is primarily concerned with issues of power and resistance as these relate to and are embedded in discourse, representation, ‘identity’, and practice. Cultural Studies understands ‘culture’ in a broad sense, emphasising the local and everyday life. As an interdisciplinary field of study it analyses numerous cultural forms including, for example, film and television, documentaries, new media, fashion, architecture, art, sport, novels, music, food and consumption – to name just a few. These are all considered important politicized domains that shape and are shaped by dominant ‘meanings’ (as well as subversive responses) which create our ‘senses of identity’ or ‘belonging’. Scholars of Cultural Studies draw upon a wide range of methodological and theoretical perspectives in their interrogation of political forces in society (including, but not limited to, feminist, postcolonial, Marxist, indigenous theories), but it is Michel Foucault’s theory of discourse, power and knowledge that is arguably most relevant when Cultural Studies meets Human-Animal Studies (or its more politicized wing, Critical Animal Studies) in a Western context. The following books and articles represent key texts I have used when teaching Human-Animal Studies within a Cultural Studies framework.

Annie Potts