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Dog, Horse, Rat: Humans and Animals at the Margins of Life Open Access

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Scholars in critical animal theory and critical race studies, among other fields, have long identified the way that animality underlines the marginalization of individual humans and human groups. Race, disability, and non-normative sexualities—all have been constructed, in part, through discourses of animality. But while the most common political response to this trend is to affirm the humanity of marginalized peoples, this dissertation argues for the utility of a second strategy, one that embraces the animal as a way to think beyond the limitations of the human. Broadly focusing on modes of resistance to marginalization that do not exclude animal bodies, this project examines a diverse series of texts in which marginalized characters encounter dehumanizing animalities in themselves and others, finding themselves open in the process not only to sanctioned violence, but to unexpected intimacies. Reading these moments of love and flourishing in spaces of uneven dehumanization and injustice, this dissertation models an intimate close reading practice that, while still taking seriously the deleterious effects of these dehumanizing associations with animality, looks beyond them to explore and describe how embracing these animal associations provides varying degrees of sustenance for marginalized bodies.

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