From Animal Rights to Kinship with Animals

Posted on January 8, 2013

Paper published in Antennae – The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, Winter 2012

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The visual cultures manifested in the advertising and communication activities of animal rights activists and those concerned with the conservation of species may be counter-productive, creating an ever-increasing cultural distance between the human and the animal. By continuing to position animals as subjugated, exploitable others, or as creatures that belong in a romanticized ‘nature’ separate from the human, communications campaigns may achieve effects that are contrary to those desired. The unashamed, cheaply voyeuristic nature of shock imagery may win headlines while worsening the overall position of the animal in human culture. We offer an alternative way of thinking about visual communication concerning animals – one that is focused on enhancing a sense of kinship with animals. Based on empirical evidence, we suggest that continued progress both in conservation and in animal rights does not depend on continued castigation of the human but rather on embedding in our cultures the type of human-animal relationship on which positive change can be built.

Joe Zammit-Lucia and Linda Kalof

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