IS CAPITALISM TO BLAME?

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Economist Steven McMullen says the answer is “Yes”! 

In recent years, our ability to produce animal-based food has increased dramatically, but this increased efficiency has come as a result of decreased quality of life and shorter life-spans for the animals.  Similarly, industrial breeding of animals for pet stores and experimentation often results in very poor living conditions for animals in the breeding facilities. Should this animal welfare problem be blamed on farmers?  Are consumers to blame?  Or should we blame the capitalist system in which people operate? McMullen argues that both farmers and consumers are limited in their ability to improve the lives of these animals because of the nature of the market economy in which animal lives are traded. Moreover, it is precisely the elements of the market economy that make it so successful that result in poor outcomes for animals in the system. According to McMullen, understanding the degree to which capitalism is the problem allows us to think clearly about what reforms are necessary really to improve the lives of animals. Join us on Saturday, April 26, at 3:00 pm for a sneak peek at this ground-breaking new research in economically-informed animal studies, soon to be a book in the Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series.

 

PROTECT MICHIGAN WOLVES!

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HSUS’s Michigan Senior State Director Is On the Job For Our Lupine Friends!

Jill Fritz knows a little something about animal protection in northern exposures. Previously the state director in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Fritz now serves as Senior State Director for the Humane Society of the United States in Michigan, where she has played a key role in the passage of farm animal protection legislation, banning the confinement systems of battery cages, veal crates, and gestation crates on factory farms. Among her latest challenges in the Mitten State is the highly-publicized battle to keep Michigan wolves protected from efforts to end a five-decade hunting ban on this species that has only just recently come off the endangered list. Join the pack on Friday, April 25, at 3:00 pm to find out more about how you can help!

BRYANT TERRY TIMES TWO!

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 Our Kitchen Table serves up food justice and a second helping of Bryant Terry!

When the big guns come to town, sometimes you’ve got to add that second show to satisfy the people. Our Kitchen Table and Calvin College have teamed up to do just that, offering an exclusive opportunity to grub with Bryant Terry and talk about the future of food justice in our fair city on Wednesday, April 23, at 6:00 pm. You’re welcome, Grand Rapids! This rare opportunity is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so pre-register today to secure your place at the table! Then come back out on Thursday night for second helpings of Bryant’s food and wisdom at the Calvin College Chapel. 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER!

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Colley and Wolpa on the Animal Artifact as Ideological Transmission Device

We’ve all seen wince-inducing racist and sexist artifacts that take our breath away and make us wonder how a civilized world could have ever suborned such ignorance and malice. From early-twentieth century Aunt Jemima salt shakers to Nazi-era money-hoarding “shylock” ashtrays to mid-century advertisements that portray women as kitchen and bedroom props, privileged human beings have long used mass-produced objects and images as a means of storing and transmitting ideological information about “othered” groups to consumer culture at large. These racist and sexist ideologies are often propagated and entrenched through the use of objects or images that seek to reduce the othered group in question to the status of animals, posturing black and brown people as bestial, Jewish people as rats or parasites, and women as meat. By portraying human beings as animal-like, these objects and images seek to make the groups in question easier to subjugate, exterminate, or consume.

Putting it all together

What is taken for granted here is that animals are fundamentally and unproblematically at our behest–we can put them to work for us, kill them at will, and use them for pleasure without the slightest compunction. Working at the intersection of racism, sexism, and speciesism, Brett Colley and Adam Wolpa have assembled a collection of artifacts that is designed to challenge this uninterrogated assumption. By foregrounding the all-too-often hidden humor, absurdity, and horror of our cultural and commercial inheritance of the view that animals are merely expendable, exploitable objects, the artists transport us in the present to a future in which our abject, presumptive, and tawdry objectifications of animals are on display in a new and troubling light (as each artifact label discloses) as “objects for the storage and transmission of a speciesist ideology.” Come and test yourself. What you do not see at first glance may be even more telling than what you do.

AFRO-VEGAN DROPS TODAY!

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Get your research on so you’re prepared for that meet and greet on April 24!

In just 16 days, you’ll be hanging out with Bryant Terry. And since it’s always good hospitality to know a little something about your honored guests, it’s time to read up on the books that influenced Afro-Vegan so you can drop those casual references to the work of Robin D.G. Kelly and your knowledge about the unique treatments of millet in Super Natural Cooking. While you’re getting your very own copy of Afro-Vegan (AVAILABLE TODAY!!!) signed, for instance, instead of making small talk about the weather and looking like a big dummy, you can say something extra-sophisticated like “Your handwriting reminds me of a personal note I received from Edna Lewis that I use as a bookmark in my dog-eared copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which is only ever shelved when I’m engrossed in my annual The Bluest Eye read-a-thon, you know?” Smooooooth!

PAUL SHAPIRO RETURNS!

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You’re probably wondering, “Where have I seen this guy before?”.

It might have been on CNN. Or it could have been that spot on CNN. Or maybe it was that thing on CNN. I know! It was that video of his last appearance at Calvin College, an institution he holds in such high esteem that he named his new cat after us! In any case, there is no shortage of opportunities to see Paul Shapiro making headlines, and he’s been making them for nearly two decades. Since founding Compassion Over Killing as a high school student in 1995, Shapiro has been working relentlessly to make the world a better place for animals, most recently as the Vice President for Farm Animal Protection at The Humane Society of the United States, the world’s largest and most favorably expert-rated animal welfare non-profit organization. You’d think a person this accomplished would be inaccessible, but after ten minutes of conversation with Paul, you’ll feel like you’ve known him for years. Join us for his presentation on the progress afoot in contemporary animal advocacy and make a new, old friend in the movement!

PRO-LIFE = PRO-ANIMAL?

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Meet the man who took Peter Singer to church. Well, not exactly.

But he did write a pivotal book on Peter Singer and Christian Ethics that has prompted Singer to take religious approaches to applied ethics more seriously than ever before, making public appearances with Camosy to discuss the common ground between atheist and Christian ethics and inviting him to present on the ethics of abortion in Singer’s groundbreaking massive online open course (MOOC) on Practical Ethics at Princeton. Late in 2013, the release of Camosy’s newest book, For Love of Animals: Christian Ethics, Consistent Action, launched a media juggernaut that has landed this Catholic moral theologian from Fordham University on the pages of The New York Times (spotlighting the connection between Catholic pro-life commitments and concern for animals), The Huffington Post (suggesting that Christianity has a role to play in the mainstreaming of vegetarianism), and Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish (talking about everything from Jesus eating fish to the ethics of zoos), among many others.

As this year’s Animals and the Kingdom of God Lecturer, Camosy will address similarities between the pro-life and pro-animal movements, provoking pro-lifers, on the one hand, to consider the implications of their life ethic for their eating practices, and provoking animal advocates, on the other, to consider how their concern for vulnerable animals pertains to their moral outlook on prenatal human beings.  Come for the provocation, stay for the reception, and get your signed copy of the book that has put Christian animal ethics in the white hot media spotlight.