Postcolonial Animality

full name / name of organization: 
Amit R. Baishya, Suvadip Sinha

From one perspective, postcolonial studies and animal studies should be natural allies as both interrogate the shifting limits of the human-animal binary. However, for a variety of reasons, conjunctions between these two fields have only begun fairly recently. On the one hand, the residues of certain versions of humanism (cf. Fanon, Appiah) still haunt the edifice of postcolonial theory rendering it difficult for this knowledge field to talk about the mutual imbrication and degradation of humans and animals in the colony and the post-colony; on the other, as Huggan and Tiffin write, the "history of western racism and its imbrication with discourses of speciesism; the use of animals as a basis for human social division; and, above all perhaps, the metaphorization and deployment of 'animal' as a derogatory term in genocidal and marginalizing discourses – all of these make it difficult even to discuss animals without generating a profound unease, even a rancorous antagonism, in many postcolonial contexts today." Recent studies of postcolonial "zooontologies" have begun breaking down such boundaries focusing on issues like the shared impoverishment of human and animal worlds in the colony and post-colony, the question of animal narrators and the role that they play in breaking down the assumed limits of the aforementioned binary, looking at the role and figuration of animals in texts like The Hungry Tide and Whale Rider and also the role that animal ontologies play in such cultural productions.

Acknowledging the earlier theoretical impasses and building on recent interrogations of such binaries initiated by the ecocritical and nonhuman "turns" in postcolonial studies, this proposed edited collection seeks to explore new questions for the field. To this end we invite paper proposals that explore the following connections:

--Imbrications between colonialism, nationalism, statism, speciesism and species conservation.
--The conjunctures and disjunctures between anthropomorphism, species confusion and various models of humanism
--Colonial/postcolonial zooontologies
--The role of animals in postcolonial cultural productions, both symbolic and material
--Economies of vulnerability and risk that impact both human and animal in the post-colony
--Gender, sexuality and their relationship to the animal
--The animal as site/producer of affect
--Food, eating and the animal

Abstracts should be between 300-350 words. The deadline for abstract submission is April 1. We will inform contributors about selection or rejection of their abstracts by the end of April. Complete papers for the abstracts that are selected will be due on August 15. Papers should be 7000 words in length and in MLA format. Our focus will primarily be on literary and cultural texts. However, submissions from other disciplines are also welcome as long as the primary focus is on a cultural text or a set of cultural texts. Please email Suvadip Sinha ( and Amit Baishya ( for questions or the submission of abstracts.