Race Matters, Animal Matters: Fugitive Humanism in African America, 1840-1930, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Race Matters, Animal Matters

Fugitive Humanism in African America, 1840-1930, 1st Edition

By Lindgren Johnson


202 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780367358969
pub: 2019-07-29
Hardback: 9781138954540
pub: 2017-11-10
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Race Matters, Animal Matters challenges one of the grand narratives of African American studies: that African Americans rejected racist associations of blackness and animality through a disassociation from animality. Analyzing canonical texts written by Frederick Douglass, Charles Chesnutt, Ida B. Wells, and James Weldon Johnson alongside slaughterhouse lithographs, hunting photography, and sheep “husbandry” manuals, Lindgren Johnson argues instead for a critical African American tradition that at pivotal moments reconsiders and recuperates discourses of animality weaponized against both African Americans and animals. Johnson articulates a theory of “fugitive humanism” in which these texts fl ee both white and human exceptionalism, even as they move within and seek out a (revised) humanist space. The focus, for example, is not on how African Americans shake off animal associations in demanding recognition of their humanity, but on how they hold fast to animality and animals in making such a move, revising “the human” itself as they go and undermining the binaries that helped to produce racial and animal injustices.

Fugitive humanism reveals how an interspecies ethics develops in these African American responses to violent dehumanization. Illuminating those moments in which the African American canon exceeds human exceptionalism, Race Matters, Animal Matters ultimately shows how these black engagements with animals and animality are not subsequent to efforts for racial justice a mere extension of the abolitionist or antilynching movements— but, to the contrary, are integral to those efforts. This black- authored temporality challenges widely accepted humanist approaches to the relationship between racial and animal justice as it anticipates and even critiques the valuable insights that animal studies and posthumanism have to offer in our current moment.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction. Fugitive Humanism in African America

Chapter 1. Scenes of Slave Breaking and Making in Moses Roper’s and Frederick Douglass’ Slave Narratives

Chapter 2. "To Admit All Cattle without Distinction": Reconstructing Slaughter in the Slaughterhouse Cases and the New Orleans Crescent City Slaughterhouse

Chapter 3. Strange Fruits: Conjure, Slaughter, and The Politics of Disembodiment in Charles Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman and Related Tales

Chapter 4. Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: Hunting and Domestication in Spectacle Lynchings

Chapter 5. Interspecies Welfare and Justice: Animal Welfare and the Anti-Lynching Movement

Epilogue. Sanctuary and Asylum

About the Author

Lindgren Johnson is Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia, USA.

About the Series

Perspectives on the Non-Human in Literature and Culture

In recent years, many disciplines within the humanities have become increasingly concerned with non-human actors and entities. The environment, animals, machines, objects, weather, and other non-human beings and things have taken center stage to challenge assumptions about what we have traditionally called "the human." Informed by theoretical approaches like posthumanism, the new materialisms, (including Actor Network Theory, Object-Oriented Ontology, and similar approaches) ecocriticism, and critical animal studies, such scholarship has until now had no separate and identifiable collective home at an academic press. This series will provide that home, publishing work that shares a concern with the non-human in literary and cultural studies. The series invites single-authored books and essay collections that focus primarily on literary texts, but from an interdisciplinary, theoretically-informed perspective; it will include work that crosses geographical and period boundaries. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / American / African American
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Discrimination & Race Relations
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Black Studies (Global)