Article ID: CBB051499437

Doing the Work: Taxonomies of Animal Study and the Labor of Love (2018)


What is immediately clear, after reading a work on the breadth and history of animal studies like Calarco's and a specific critical study like Karnicky's, engaged in both literary period approaches and in theoretical explications of material conditions, is how precise modes such as Identity, Difference, or Indistinction do not actually stand separate from one another but instead track historical emergencies in ways similar to the material record of taxonomy-conservation-coexistence, in Karnicky. And both books call upon the lithe conceptual work of the human, in critical theory especially, to in effect manage that dominant species a bit more effectively in the future. As such, both risk enacting the managerial subject and both require a central authority of some sort. This old problem for animal studies typically must return to the "best practices" or ethical consideration frame to justify any action at all. Realizing an intention in an instrumental objective is still telos, after all, and so the critique itself always returns its latest results to critique. Karnicky, in establishing the threat of experiment and articulating the nuance of the world, all under the meticulous, wondrous specificity of a naturalist's expertise that does not trust itself, thereby realizes the critical intent of Calarco's field guide. This model of nonhuman concern and, quite simply, love, is doing the best it can, which perhaps is always a sort of second best. That is also a very old philosophical hegemony, but it at least has never meant that we quit doing the work. If the managerial contemporary wants to "work smarter not harder," labors of love like these two books refuse that easy way out for us humans.

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Authors & Contributors
Quinn, Aleta
Francesca Orestano
Dam, Mie S.
Sangild, Per T.
Montinari, Maria Rosa
Orsini, Davide
Medicina nei Secoli - Arte e Scienza
Journal of the History of Biology
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
American Quarterly
Social History of Medicine
Science and Education
Brock University (Canada)
Purdue University Press
Peter Lang
University of Southern California
Science and ethics
Animal experimentation
Classification in biology
Animal rights
Linnaeus, Carolus
Kingsford, Anna Bonus
Girard, Charles Frederic
Agassiz, Jean Louis Rodolphe
Time Periods
21st century
19th century
20th century
20th century, late
Early modern
United Kingdom
United States

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