Is Multiculturalism Good for Animals?

Part of the The Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series book series (PMAES)


This chapter interrogates the view that animals fare better in white, Western dominant liberal culture than non-Western (invariably racialized) cultures. To counter the literature that assumes that multiculturalism is bad for animals, this chapter considers why multiculturalism is good for animals and argues that we should abandon the quick association between minoritized cultural practices and animal suffering (which is not meant to suggest that minoritized cultures are safe havens for animals). This chapter points to the misrepresentation of non-Western/colonized cultures as comparatively regressive for animals through a comparative analysis of one cultural arena: legal texts and reform. The analysis highlights the entrenched anthropocentrism of liberal legal systems as well as animal-friendly contemporary legal developments in the global South.


Multiculturalism Colonized cultures Minoritized cultural practices Animal suffering 


  1. Adams, C.J., and J. Donovan (eds.). 1995. Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, K. 2000. The Beast Within: Race, Humanity, and Animality. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 18 (3): 301–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bailey, C. 2007. We Are What We Eat: Feminist Vegetarianism and the Reproduction of Racial Identity. Hypatia 22 (2): 39–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Banerji, H. 2000. The Dark Side of the Nation: Essays on Multiculturalism, Nationalism and Gender. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bekoff, M. 2007. The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy and Why They Matter. Novato, CA: New World Library.Google Scholar
  6. Birke, L., and L. Parisi. 1999. Animals, Becoming. In Animal Others: On Ethics, Ontology, and Animal Life, ed. H.P. Steeves. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  7. Boggs, C.G. 2010. American Bestiality: Sex, Animals, and the Construction of Subjectivity. Cultural Critique 76: 98–125.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, W. 1988. Manhood and Politics: A Feminist Reading of Political Theory. Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  9. Calarco, M. 2015. Animal Studies. The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory 23: 20–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Casal, P. 2003. Is Multiculturalism Bad for Animals. Journal of Political Philosophy 11 (1): 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Catlaw, T.J., and T.M. Holland. 2012. Regarding the Animal: On Biopolitics and the Limits of Humanism in Public Administration. Administrative Theory and Praxis 34 (1): 85–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cohen, J., M. Howard, and M.C. Nussbaum. 1999. Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Cudworth, E. 2015. Killing Animals: Sociology, Species Relations and Institutionalized Violence. Sociological Review 63 (1): 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Deckha, M. 2004. Is Culture Taboo? Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 16 (1): 14–53.Google Scholar
  15. Deckha, M. 2010. The Subhuman as a Cultural Agent of Violence. Journal of Critical Animal Studies 8 (3): 28–51. Available at (Accessed).
  16. Deckha, M. 2012. Toward a Postcolonial Posthumanist Feminist Theory: Centralizing Race and Culture in Feminist Work on Nonhuman Animals. Hypatia 27 (3): 527–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Deckha, M. 2013. Welfarist and Imperial: The Contributions of Anti-cruelty Legislation to Civilizational Discourse. American Quarterly 65 (3): 515–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Deckha, M. 2015. Vulnerability, Equality, Animals. Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 27 (1): 47–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Deckha, M. forthcoming 2017. Humanizing the Nonhuman: A Legitimate Way for Animals to Escape Juridical Property Status? In Critical Animal Studies, ed. J. Sorenson and A. Matsuoka. Toronto: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  20. Deutsche Welle. 2013. Dolphins Gain Unprecedented Protection in India. (Accessed).
  21. Elder, G., J. Emel, and J. Wolch. 1998. Race, Place, and the Bounds of Humanity. Society and Animals 6 (2): 183–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Esmeir, S. 2013. Juridical Humanity: A Colonial History. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations. 2013a. Campaign Report 2012–2013: Campaign to Prohibit the Establishment of Dolphinaria and Keeping of Cetaceans in Captivity in India. Not paginated. Retrieved 2 Sept 2016.
  24. Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations. 2013b. India Becomes Fourth Country to Ban Captive Dolphin Shows. Retrieved 2 Sept 2016.
  25. Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations. 2013c. Victory! MoEF Says NO to Dolphinariums in India. Retrieved 2 Sept 2016.
  26. Fielder, B.N. 2013. Animal Humanism: Race, Species, and Affective Kinship in Nineteenth-Century Abolitionism. American Quarterly 65 (3): 487–514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fox, M. 2004. Re-thinking Kinship: Law’s Construction of the Animal Body. Current Legal Problems 57 (1): 469–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fox, M. 2005. Reconfiguring the Animal/Human Boundary: The Impact of Xenotechnologies. Liverpool Law Review 26 (2): 149–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fox, R. 2006. Animal Behaviours, Post-Human Lives: Everyday Negotiations of the Animal–Human Divide in Pet-Keeping. Social & Geography 7 (4): 525–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Francione, G. 1995. Animals, Property and the Law. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Gaard, G. 2001. Tools for a Cross-Cultural Feminist Ethics: Exploring Ethical Contexts and Contents in the Makah Whale Hunt. Hypatia 16 (1): 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Glick, M.H. 2013. Animal Instincts: Race, Criminality, and the Reversal of the ‘Human’. American Quarterly 65 (3): 639–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Godrej, F. 2011. Cosmopolitan Political Thought: Method, Discipline, Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Grear, A. 2007. Challenging Corporate ‘Humanity’: Legal Disembodiment, Embodiment and Human Rights. Human Rights Law Review 7 (3): 511–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Grear, A. 2015. Deconstructing Anthropos: A Critical Legal Reflection on ‘Anthropocentric’ Law and Anthropocene ‘Humanity’. Law and Critique 26 (3): 225–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Gruen, L. 2011. Ethics and Animals: An Introduction. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Harper, B.A. 2013. Doing Veganism Differently: Racialized Trauma and the Personal Journey Towards Vegan Healing. In Doing Nutrition Differently, ed. J. Hayes-Conroy and A. Hayes-Conroy, 133–150. London: Ashgate Press.Google Scholar
  38. Harris, A.P. 2009. Should People of Color Support Animal Rights? Journal of Animal Law 5 (15): 15–32.Google Scholar
  39. Hart, W.D. 2014. Slaves, Fetuses, and Animals: Race and Ethical Rhetoric. Journal of Religious Ethics 42 (4): 661–690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kapur, R. 2006. Human Rights in the 21st Century: Take a Walk on the Dark Side. Sydney Law Review 28: 665–687.Google Scholar
  41. Kemmerer, L. 2016. Multiculturalism, Indian Philosophy, and Conflicts Over Cuisine. In Philosophical Perspectives on Multiculturalism: Historical, Western, Eastern and African Approaches, ed. Luís Cordeiro-Rodrigues, and Marko Simendic, 133–152. Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Kim, C.J. 2007. Multiculturalism Goes Imperial. Du Bois Review 4 (1): 233–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kim, C.J. 2015. Dangerous Crossings: Race Species and Nature in a Multicultural Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kymlicka, W. 1995. Multicultural Citizenship—A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Kymlicka, W., and S. Donaldson. 2014. Animal Rights, Multiculturalism, and the Left. Journal of Social Philosophy 45 (1): 116–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Langvasbråten, T. 2008. A Scandinavian Model? Gender Equality Discourses on Multiculturalism. Social Politics 15 (1): 32–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mookherjee, M. 2005. Review Article: Feminism and Multiculturalism-Putting Okin and Shachar in Question. Journal of Moral Philosophy 2 (2): 237–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Narayan, U. 1997. Dislocating Cultures—Identities, Traditions, Third-World Feminism. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  49. Nibert, D. 2013. Animal Oppression & Human Violence: Domesecration, Capitalism, and Global Conflict. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Okin, S.M. 1997. Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? When Minority Cultures Win Group Rights, Women Lose Out. Boston Review 22 (5): 25.Google Scholar
  51. Okin, S.M. 1998. Feminism and Multiculturalism: Some Tensions. Ethics 108 (4): 661–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Oliver, K. 2001. Witnessing: Beyond Recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  53. Oliver, K. 2015. Earth Ethics: Philosophy After the Apollo Missions. New York: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Parekh, B. 2005. Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  55. Plumwood, V. 2002. Environmental Culture: The Sociolegal Crisis of Reason. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  56. Rasmussen, C. 2015. Pleasure, Pain, and Place: Ag-Gag, Crush Videos, and Animal Bodies on Display. In Critical Animal Geographies: Politics, Intersections, and Hierarchies in a Multispecies World, ed. K. Gillespie and R. Collard. Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  57. Rogers, R.A., and C.J.A. Wilkinson. 2000. Policies of Extinction: The Life and Death of Canada’s Endangered Species Legislation. Policy Studies Journal 28 (1): 190–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Song, S. 2007. Justice, Gender, and the Politics of Multiculturalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Spiegel, Marjorie. 1996. Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery. New York: Mirror Books.Google Scholar
  60. Spivak, G.C. 1993. Can the Subaltern Speak? In Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader, ed. P. Williams and L. Chrisman. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester.Google Scholar
  61. Srinivasan, K. 2016. The Biopolitics of Animal Being and Welfare: Dog Control and Care in the UK and India. Transactions 38 (1): 106–119.Google Scholar
  62. Sunder Rajan, R. 1993. Real and Imagined Women: Gender, Culture and Postcolonialism. New York and London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Szűcs, E., et al. 2012. Animal Welfare in Different Human Cultures, Traditions and Religious Faiths. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 25 (11): 1499–1506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Twine, R. 2010. Intersectional Disgust? Animals and (Eco)Feminism. Feminism & Psychology 20 (3): 397–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Volpp, L. 2001. Multiculturalism Against Feminism. Columbia Law Review 101 (5): 1181–1218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wadiwel, D. 2015. The War Against Animals. Lieden: Brill.Google Scholar
  67. Williams, R.V. 2013. The More Things Change: Debating Gender and Religion in India’s Hindu Laws, 1920–2006. Gender & History 25 (3): 711–724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wrenn, C.L. 2016. An Analysis of Diversity in Nonhuman Animal Rights Media. Journal of Agricultural Environmental Ethics 29: 143–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wrenn, C.L., and M. Lutz. 2016. White Women Wanted? An Analysis of Gender Diversity in Social Justice Magazines. Societies 6 (12): 1–18.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

Personalised recommendations