Just Fanciers: Transformative Justice by Way of Fancy Rat Breeding as a Loving Form of Life
A growing trend within feminist animal studies is to eschew the abolitionism/welfarism binary in favor of attending carefully to the politics of existing interspecies relationships in context. This literature maintains that domestication produces special interspecies relationships which generate ongoing responsibilities for human companions and communities. With the goal of clarifying how tending to these ongoing responsibilities to domesticated animals can qualify as enduring forms of interspecies justice, this paper unpacks the politics of these special relationships and obligations in context, specifically, that of fancy rat breeders’ attempts to eliminate aganglionic megacolon. Contrasting fanciers’ efforts with those of laboratory breeders and researchers, I argue that what sets the fancy apart is its shared code of ethics and the loving, principled form of life from which it emerges. Furthermore, the knowledge that rats are worth loving not only enables fanciers to attend to the injustice of megacolon but facilitates transformative justice for domestic rats more broadly.
KeywordsAnimal ethics Feminist animal studies Love studies Animal experimentation Transformative justice
I am very grateful to Paul Thompson, Kyle Whyte, and Zachary Piso for their help and support throughout the development of this project. I would also like to thank the Geocognition Research Laboratory at Michigan State University and Lynn Keller for their invaluable insights.
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