Here I am in my office among the more than 2,000 books in my archive. Photo: Paul Knight
This has been an extremely busy year for me and my work for animal rights as an advocate for animals who is an author and independent scholar.
The year’s highlight was the publication of Growl by Lantern Books. Part memoir and part manifesto, Growl is the book I wish I could’ve read when I first became a vegetarian, animal rights activist in 1974.
Many of my activities this year were centred around Growl and its publication and promotion, including a three-week, six-city trip to the USA.
It’s important for me to recognise here the many friends and colleagues as well as a significant number of like-minded organisations who I have had the honour to work with throughout 2014 toward our shared mission of ending animal exploitation. In particular, I wish to thank the kind contributors to my Indiegogo campaign whose generosity helped to make possible my animal rights work this year. Thank you!
To keep up to date with me and work for animal rights, please follow me on my social media:
‘Hyde Park is not just a site of human demonstrations and concerts,’ explained Hilda. ‘It is a space in which animals have also lived, died and been remembered and not only at the Animals in War memorial in Park Lane.’
Seen in the distance are the gravestones of the Hyde Park Dog Cemetery.
Britain’s first pet cemetery is in Hyde Park. Although we were unable to gain access, the headstones were visible through the wrought iron fence. Hilda writes about the Hyde Park Dog Cemetery on her website:
It was originally called (it also admitted the corpses of three small monkeys, and two cats) was established in 1880 in the part of the huge park that lies adjacent to Kensington Gardens (and opposite Lancaster Gate). Although accounts vary as to the origins of the cemetery – either initiated by the Duke of Connaught or through a favour of the gatekeeper to friends who lived nearby – it is evident that the cemetery was not run for profit but as a philanthropic gesture towards grieving animal owners.
The walking tour also included two cattle troughs, the memorial for a defunct bird sanctuary which featured Epstein’s figure of ‘Rima,’ the bird-girl heroine of W. H. Hudson’s novel, ‘Green Mansions.’ The tour ended at the Animals in War Memorial on Park Lane immediately adjacent and to the east of Hyde Park.
This video is raw footage I shot with my iPad. The Animals in War Memorial is situated in the middle of a very busy road, Park Lane, with each side having at least two lanes of traffic, including many buses and coaches. So, the audio quality is not great but does improve. In any event, it is possible to hear Hilda Kean speak about the memorial and see it and how it is situated.
Approaching the midway point of the year provokes reflection on the current status of my work for animal rights.
GREY2K USA joins my roster of client organisations. I am honoured to be assisting them with their successful efforts to “pass stronger greyhound protection laws and end the cruelty of dog racing on both national and international levels.”
Also, I am pleased to announce that my responsibility has expanded as Editor of A Compassionate World, the blog of Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive, Compassion In World Farming. I am now also the blog’s Project Manager and will be working with Compassion’s talented staff to improve and expand A Compassionate World.
My book, GROWL. Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate, is scheduled for publication by Lantern Books in October. Look out for changes here that will feature GROWL!
A Conference Honoring the Ecofeminist Work of Marti Kheel at Wesleyan University, New York in November 2012.
Presently, I am preparing to make a return visit to the USA from Thursday, November 8 to Saturday, December 1. This will be my second trip to the USA since leaving five years ago after living and working there for 20 years. I am looking forward to the trip very much. I grew to appreciate the USA notwithstanding its annoyances. Well, everywhere does have them, including the UK where I live now!
It will be a busy three week and three day schedule, which I would like to share with you. I would love to see everyone again who I enjoyed meeting during my time there. But, realistically, that won’t be possible. Nevertheless, send me an email at email@example.com and let’s see if we can schedule a telephone or Skype call while I’m there. Better still, please get in touch to see if it’s possible to meet in the places which I will be visiting or at the events where I will be speaking.
Conference Honoring the Ecofeminist Work of Marti Kheel
This conference from November 9 to 10 at Wesleyan University in Connecticut will celebrate the unique contribution Marti made in developing our understanding of animal ethics and, in particular, ecofeminism. I will be presenting as a member of a panel looking at the practice of advocacy. My focus will be on the impact ecofeminism made on my understanding of what form animal advocacy should take. The line up of speakers at this conference is truly outstanding. To single anyone out would be unfair to everyone else. I am truly honoured to be part of it.
New York City
I will be in NYC the week of November 12 and would like to see as many people as possible. Drop me an email. I will be spending Thanksgiving week with Sue Coe, which will hopefully involve lots of eating, walking the dogs in the woods and arguments about this and that.
The remainder of my trip is spent with my colleagues at the Animals and Society Institute, which is based in Ann Arbor, MI. I will be spending Monday, November 26 to Thursday, November 29 particularly with Bee Friedlander but I suspect there’s going to be a reunion of sorts of ASI folks taking place! On Monday, I will be joining Bee when she makes a presentation at the University of Michigan Dearborn and to the class of Fran Dolins, professor of psychology. Also during this time I will be speaking with ASI supporters to catch up and thank them for all that they do for the animals.
Yours truly will be speaking the evening before the Michigan Partnership for Animal Welfare conference on Thursday, November 29 in Troy, MI.
On Thursday evening, I am the featured speaker at the Troy Marriott where I will consider ‘What It Means to Care Deeply About Animals.’ (You can book here.)
My presentation is the pre-event to the annual Michigan Partnership for Animal Welfare conference. I will be speaking here, as well, and will be discussing ‘USA – UK: Who is Making More Progress in Animal Welfare?’ Provocative, eh!
I am also putting to the bed the manuscript for my first book which will be published by Lantern Books next year. It’s been a longtime coming. The only thing I want to say about it now is that it is my intention to return to the USA in 2013 to travel throughout the country to share with folks the ideas I explore in my book. This tour will be produced in partnership with the Animals and Society Institute. ASI is very dear to my heart because one of our objectives is to help further establish Human-Animal Studies. HAS is the study of our relationship with animals and theirs with us. I firmly believe moral and legal rights for animals will be made even more possible with new generations of academics and scientists informed in animal studies playing prominent roles in society. I also want to partner with other animal groups. Please get in touch if you’re interested.
This book, which started life as Animal Dharma, has gone through many changes. You can read earlier extracts here.
So, if we fail to connect this year, well, there’s always 2013!
On Saturday, September 29, I was lucky to be part of a walking group led by historian Hilda Kean which explored ‘Animal Pasts in London’s Landscape Today.’ As Hilda writes on her Web site,
Alongside our human ancestors animals have created the physical and cultural landscape of London as it exists today. In this walk of c. 2 hours we will look at traces left by cattle, horses, dogs and cats – and their human companions. Skirting the city, this walk will offer a different way of seeing London.
This video shows how we started at Smithfield Market. It began as a place where once live farmed animals were brought, bought, sold and killed to a meat market today. Hilda read out from Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist,
It was market-morning. The ground was covered, nearly ankle-deep, with filth and mire; a thick steam, perpetually rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle, and mingling with the fog, which seemed to rest upon the chimney-tops, hung heavily yabove. All the pens in the centre of the large area, and as many temporary pens as could be crowded into the vacant space, were filled with sheep; tied up to posts by the gutter side were long lines of beasts and oxen, three or four deep.
Smithfield is on the borders of the City, whixh is a place of many histories. For example, St Bartholomew’s, the oldest hospital in London, was founded here by Rahere in 1123. It was a site of executions and Protestant martyrs were burnt to death, including William Wallace and Wat Tyler. The live trade in cattle from C12 to 1860s led ironically to the first legislation in the world to protect animals in 1822, when it became illegal to ‘wantonly and cruelly beat abuse, or ill treat any horse, mare, gelding, mule, ass, ox, cow , heifer, steer, sheep, or other cattle.’
Samuel Johnson’s cat, Hodge, as represented by sculptor Jon Bickley in 1997.
On our way to Samuel Johnson’s house in Gough Square, Hilda pointed several key landmarks and buildings, which I will tease you with by saying, dear reader, you will need to join Hilda on a future tour to find out! Samuel Johnson, the famous essayist, lived in a house in Gough Square, between 1749 – 59, which was during the period when he published his famous dictionary. Dr Johnson opposed cruelty to animals, including vivisection which he defined as perpetrated ‘by a race of men that have practised tortures without pity.’ He also loved cats. One of them, Hodge, was described by Johnson as a ‘very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.’ Here is a link to an extract of a videoI shot of Hilda telling us about Hodge.
Sam, who had all the ideas.
Later on the walk, we saw another statue dedicated to a cat. This was Sam. Sam, who was a real cat who lived with Patricia Penn, and is now commemorated in sculpture by John Fuller in Queen Square. Penny, as she was known, was a local campaigner and active in the residents association. Penny and Sam lived nearby. Apparently when Penny wanted to reveal something or spread an idea, she’d say ‘Sam heard … or Sam has had an idea.’ We also visited another statue dedicated to a cat, Humphrey. Click on this linkto watch Hilda explain who Humphrey was.
I took this photo looking up to the door which horses were taken through. I am standing on the corridor leading down to the lower flower looking up at the front door. The cobbled steps, which were installed to help make it easier for the horses to walk, are clearly visible.
The last but one site we visited was what used to be the horse hospital but is now an art gallery on the lower floor and the contemporary wardrobe collection on the upper floor. The horse hospital is located at the rear of Russell Hotel in Herbrand Street and Colonnade. It was built by architect James Burton in 1797, who also built the Veterinary College in St Pancras and then redeveloped after 1860. Now a grade 11 listed arts centre, the interior still contains the moulded ramps and cobbled floor which enabled horses to walk from the bottom to be treated on the first floor. Apologies for this brief account of what was a fascinating two-hour plus walk through central London. Please visit Hilda’s Web site to learn more about her various projects in animal rights and other histories. Her book on the history of animal rights is also highly recommended. It is called ‘Animal Rights’ and is published by Reaktion. Please also check out this link. It is to a video of Hilda making a presentation at a recent conference of the International Society of Anthrozoology called, ‘The Changing Human-Feline Relationship in Britain c.1900-1950.’
Writing this on September 11, I cannot but help think of it as a sad day. Not only for everyone who was affected by the terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, but also for the people in South America, when a military coup in Chile in 1973, deposed the democratically elected government. As difficult as it can be, life marches on relentlessly. We have to keep up and with its consequences. There is no option available here.
Toro de la Vega, where a bull is killed by a mob with spears
Even today, as I worked from home this morning, I followed the live developments of the Toro de la Vega in Tordesillas, which is in the province of Valladolid in central northern Spain.
The Toro de la Vega consisted of killing Volante, a five-year-old bull weighing 622 kilos, by spearing him to death with lances. The Toro is known in Spanish culture as a ‘tournament.’ But it’s impossible for me to think of it as that. It is violence toward animals.
Terrorism, regardless of the victim’s species, has no place in the world, if we want to think of ourselves as civilised.
Being in the fortunate position of working full-time for animal rights as long as I have, all too often every day is a sad day. Of course, I know I am not alone in feeling this. It’s true for everyone whose hearts and minds are open to animal cruelty and exploitation. Somehow, we cope with all the sadness, which is often softened by the joy we experience sharing our lives and homes with other animals. I like to think of these rescued animals as refugees. Citizens who are lost in a profound way who we must take in. Even if it means frequent cleaning of the litter box and walks when we’d rather have an early night.
Shelly, tucked in and asleep
Speaking of which, Shelly continues to settle in well. Her time spent in my office working with me is increasing. But she gets easily bored there, as my attention is focused on my work. Even though she can sleep for as long as she likes. And there’s always someone around who is happy to make a fuss of her. So, now, I spend some days, like today, working at home on the dining room table.
Now that we’re in September I have begun to focus more on planning my trip to the USA for the month of November. My itinerary includes New York, Washington, DC, and Ann Arbor, MI. I will be working closely with my colleagues, Ken Shapiro and Bee Friedlander, at the Animals and Society Institute. Also, I will be speaking at a conference at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT celebrating the life and work of ecofeminist philosopher Marti Kheel. In Troy, MI, I will be speaking as part of the ASI/Michigan Humane Society Speaker Series on ‘What Does It Mean to Care Deeply About Animals?’ The next day I’m also speaking at the Michigan Partnership for Animal Welfare on ‘USA/UK: Who is Making Progress and Why.’
I also heard back from the folks at Lantern who read the manuscript of my first book. They made insightful comments and we’re presently working on making further improvements to the text. John Sorenson at Brock University also made positive comments about the chapter I submitted to the anthology he’s editing on critical animal studies.
So, perhaps, I shouldn’t feel so sad after all because, slowly but surely, all of us who working for animal liberation are making progress.
Well, it’s a long, long time
From May to December.
But the days grow short,
When you reach September.
And the autumn weather
Turns the leaves to gray
And I haven’t got time
For the waiting game.
Extract from September Song. Lyrics by Maxwell Anderson. Music by Kurt Weill.
August always feel like the end of one year and the beginning of another. It’s a bit like New Year’s Eve. But it lasts a month. And without all the celebrations of one evening, which usually disappoint because of unrealistic expectations. August becomes a period of transition. Things past are completed. Things new started. Well, that’s the plan. And sometimes it even works!
For example, this month I sent the manuscript to my first book to Lantern for their review. Starting life as Animal Dharma but later renamed Not for Beasts, Lantern will give me their assessment soon. Of course, I’m anxious about what they will have to say. I make no assumption there is any guarantee they will publish it. Even though that’s my preference, as I greatly admire them. Nowadays, however, the technology is available for authors to publish themselves respectfully. So, I know, one way or another, Not for Beasts is going to see the light of day in 2013. Yay!
When I began the project more years ago than I care to admit, I realised some time into it I was writing two books. This revelation led me to dividing it into two. So, the first became my personal take on what it means to care deeply about animals. The second, which I call the Animal Rights Challenge, is a critical evaluation of the animal rights movement in the UK and USA between 1975 and 2010.
So, for the last few years, I have been writing and researching two books. Book one is now moved on from creation to the next stage of publication. This means that I can focus more on book two.
Last year John Sorenson at Brock University in Canada kindly invited me to submit a chapter for an anthology on critical animal studies he is editing. I am using this chapter, which I will be finished by the end of August, as the foundation to book two. Also, I gave a paper recently to conferences at universities in Barcelona, Exeter and Utrecht addressing the issues that I explore in book two. The chapter and talks were very helpful. They provided opportunities for people to comment on what I had to say. You can read my talk here. Please send me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. My paper will be included in the proceedings of the Exeter University conference currently being prepared by the organisers, Critical Perspectives on Animals in Society. The Sorenson anthology is scheduled for publication next year.
My opportunity to write books and give talks is made possible by my work as a consultant to such organisations as the Animals and Society Institute and Compassion In World Farming. This is in addition to the voluntary work I do for Minding Animals International and East Sussex Wildlife Rescue.
ASI, which I co-founded with Ken Shapiro, is a think tank which develops human-animal studies, addresses the relation between animal cruelty and other violence, and promotes the development of public policy.
Shelly sleeps while I work. Surely, there’s something wrong here?
I advise Philip Lymbery, Compassion’s CEO, on matters related to editorial content (blogs, book reviews, interviews, etc.) which are used in various media locations.
I am excited to announce that this month I began work as a consultant to Joe Duckworth, Chief Executive at the League Against Cruel Sports, to advise him on matters related to their international campaigns.
So, August is a month of transition. On a personal level this included our adoption of Shelly, an eleven year old Jack Russell mix, who, as I write, is asleep in the armchair in my office. Watching sleeping dogs helps to focus the mind.
The Invention of the Savage Exhibition at the Musee du quai Branly in Paris.
Animal advocates know the spectacle of exhibiting animals in a zoo or in any other form of display is an affront to the animals’ welfare and their intrinsic value as individual sentient beings with moral and legal rights. Zoos, aquariums, roadside attractions, etc., are examples of institutionalised speciesism in which we (the human animal) exert power and control over all other species. Speciesism is often explained as being on a continuum of prejudice along with sexism, racism, heterosexism, etc.
The Invention of the Savage exhibit at the Musee du quai Branly in Paris demonstrates this continuum of prejudice and where it intersects on racial and colonial lines; however, it fails, notwithstanding much reference to the ‘other,’ to recognise the speciesist exploitation of animals alongside the various individuals and groups of people who were also put on display in one way or another.
This is a great shame because, otherwise, it is an incredibly powerful and moving exhibition which explains well how we construct racism and institutionalise in our culture. I reproduce here the museum’s brief description of the path taken by a visitor through the exhibit.
The first Act (‘Discovering the Other’) features the 15th and 18th Century arrival of exotic people in Europe, and their consideration as ‘strange foreigners’, categorized in four archetypes throughout the exhibition: the savage, the artist, the freak and the exotic ambassador.
The second act (‘Freaks & Exotics’) shows how early 19th Century brings the emergence of a new genre: ethnic shows. They first develop in theater cafés before spreading to larger and larger venues and being included in exhibitions and circuses. This process of staging the difference blurs the difference between the deformed and the foreign: physical, psychological and geographical abnormalities are first staged, and then become the focus of performances.
The third act (‘Spectacle of Difference’) reveals that between 1870 and World War Two, many venues start specializing in ethnic performance as the Crystal Palace, Barnum and Bailey in Madison Square, the Paris Folies Bergères or the famous Panoptikum in Berlin. It is the time of the professionalization of the activity, and exotic performance morphs into mass entertainment. Visitors are introduced to “actors of savageness” who become true genre professionals: Aboriginals, ‘lip-plate women’, Amazons, snake charmers, Japanese tightrope walkers or oriental belly dancers, but also the first black clown in France called “Chocolat” and drawn by Toulouse-Lautrec and legendary Buffalo Bill, whose show revolves on the native American Indian archetype, which forever brands the Far West imagery. Unbeknownst to them, audiences encounter made-up ‘savages’. Generally paid, the exhibited actively participate in building the imagery.
The fourth act (‘Staging’) shows how reconstructed ethnic villages, zoos, colonial and international fairs, science and spectacle merge in multiple places. Exotic peoples and physical strangeness are brought together on stage as if they both equally represented the realm of abnormality. Excess, grandeur and ephemeral reconstructions characterize this section of the exhibition with posters and painted dioramas, film ,screenings, photographs, automates and postcards. The practice starts in public gardens, following the one in Paris which, in 1877, is the first in Europe to exhibit tribes and groups. Such exhibitions lead to the invention of travelling Villages, like Carl Hagenbeck’s. Major tours start in 1874, and in 1878 until the 30s, international and colonial fairs include an exotic dimension to their programs.
In the Menagerie by Paul Friedrich Meyerheim (1894)
Reference to animals occur periodically throughout the exhibit but speciesism is not addressed as such nor is the ethical question raised about exhibiting animals. However, there are some powerful examples of animals alongside exhibited ‘savages’ where, for example, Africans were brought with elephants and displayed together in zoos.
It was exciting to see in the exhibit Paul Friedrich Meyerheim’s painting, ‘In the Menagerie,’ included as it demonstrates well how an animal keeper displays an African man carrying a crocodile on his shoulders with an elephant standing behind them.
The most important understanding I came away with from the ‘Invention of the Savage’ was how, in the course of a few hundred years, individual non-white people were considered at Royal Courts to be ‘pets’ and ‘novelty’ people. This led to groups, indeed families, of natives put on public display and white people paid an admission to see them at international exhibitions and in zoos. This transition from individuals to groups contributed toward embedding into Western culture an imperialist and white supremacist worldview. A socially constructed problem of the making during last few hundred years which we continue to struggle with today.
Kim Stallwood is an independent scholar and author on animal rights. His book, Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate, is published by Lantern Books in 2014. Since 1974, he demonstrated personal commitment and professional experience in leadership positions with some of the world’s foremost animal advocacy organisations in the U.K. and U.S.A. This includes Compassion In World Farming, British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and The Animals' Agenda magazine. He co-founded the Animals and Society Institute in 2005. He is ASI’s European Director. He is also (volunteer) Executive Director of Minding Animals International. His client organisations include CIWF, GREY2K USA Worldwide, and League Against Cruel Sports. He became a vegetarian in 1974 after working in a chicken slaughterhouse. He has been a vegan since 1976. He holds dual citizenship in the U.K. and U.S.
Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate
Growl is the book I wish I could have read when I discovered animal cruelty and exploitation. I weave together two parallel narrative arcs. A memoir recalling how animals became important to me and my experiences with the animal rights movement in the U.K. and U.S.; and an exploration on what I now understand as the four key values in animal rights: compassion, truth, nonviolence, and justice. Growl is published by Lantern Books and available from book stores and online.