Faculty and Grad Research: Dr. Janet Davis and Jeannette Vaught in American Quarterly

The Tower Aglow - University of Texas at Austin
Those subscribing to American Quarterly will notice that two members of our community, Dr. Janet Davis and Jeannette Vaught, have both published articles in the September 2013 issue. The special issue, Species/Race/Sex, considers the “interdisciplinary and political challenges to thinking intersectionally about species, race, and sex.”

A quick abstract of Janet’s piece, entitled “Cockfight Nationalism: Blood Sport and the Moral Politics of American Empire and Nation Building”:

This essay explores the symbiotic relationship between animal welfare and ideologies of nation building and exceptionalism during a series of struggles over cockfighting in the new US Empire in the early twentieth century. Born out of the shared experience of American overseas expansionism, these clashes erupted in the American Occupied Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, where the battle lines pitting American-sponsored animal protectionists against indigenous cockfight enthusiasts were drawn along competing charges of cruelty and claims of self-determination. I argue that battles over the cockfight were a form of animal nationalism—that is to say, cockfight nationalism. Cockfight enthusiasts and opponents alike mapped gendered, raced, and classed ideologies of nation and sovereignty onto the bodies of fighting cocks to stake their divergent political and cultural claims regarding the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, moral uplift, benevolence, and national belonging.

And a quick abstract of Jeannette’s, entitled “Materia Medica: Technology, Vaccination, and Antivivisection in Jazz Age Philadelphia”:

During the 1920s, the Philadelphia-based American Antivivisection Society turned to racialized metaphors in its circulating periodical, the Starry Cross, to excoriate the expanding practice of vaccination. Since vaccines were then made from animal-derived serums, the involvement of antivivisectionists in antivaccine arguments is not surprising. However, the Philadelphia society’s strange combination of vaccination, jazz, and vivisection reveals that its motivations to protect animals were deeply bound to broader cultural anxieties about the threat to purity posed by science, race, and sex, and that the stakes of succumbing to vaccination amounted to no less than medical miscegenation. By turning to racialized, speciesist arguments in asking for mercy toward animals against scientifically minded torture, the antivivisectionists’ use of the sound and image of the tortured animal was meant more to protect the human body and keep it white.

Enormous congratulations to both of them! We’ve linked to their pieces above; go forth and take a look.

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