This introduction to the journal's special issue on Interspecies takes stock of the recent intellectual histories of animal studies and posthumanism, arguing for interspecies as a way to navigate new directions in these intellectual formations. Interspecies is a framing paradigm that names the articulation of human/non-human binaries and human/animal/plant taxonomies as interrelated, even as these continue to operate in congealed and differentiated modes. As a scholarly rubric, it aspires to transmit the character of political and social worlds that can no longer take the human subject as its dominant object of analysis. Informed by queer, disability, critical race, and postcolonial theory, it marks a biopolitics that acknowledges how interspecies relations form the often unmarked basis upon which scholarly inquiry organizes its objects, political interventions, such as “human rights” stake their claims, and capitalist endeavors maneuver resources and marshal profit. At present, much of posthumanist thought as well as animal studies suffer from an often implicit Euro-American focus and through that, ironically, a philosophical resuscitation of the status of “the human” as a transparent category. Interspecies offers a broader geopolitical understanding of how the human/animal/plant triad is unstable and varies across time and space. This explicit desire to depart from typically privileged sites and subjects also compels attention not only to companionate critters but significantly to “incompanionate” pests, microscopic viruses, and commodified plants—in other words, forms of life with whom interspecies relating may not be so obvious or comfortable.
Research Article|March 01 2011