Feral Feminisms – CFP Issue 6 – Feral Theory // Deadline 15 October 2015
Jun 29, 2015 → Oct 30, 2015
FERAL THEORY “I was more or less feral, on my own and grasping for things...” (19) --Lauren Berlant, GLQ 21: 1 (2015)
CFP Issue 6 – Feral Theory
Deadline 15 October 2015
Feral Feminisms, a new independent, inter-media, peer reviewed, open access online journal, invites submissions from artists, activists, and scholars for a special issue entitled, Feral Theory, guest edited by Chloë Taylor and Kelly Struthers Montford.
This issue of Feral Feminisms seeks writings that explore the feral from feminist, critical animal, queer, environmental, critical disability, critical race, anti-colonial, intersectional, interlocking, and mongrelized perspectives. Submitted contributions may include full-length academic essays (about 5000 – 7000 words), shorter creative pieces, cultural commentaries, or personal narratives (about 500 – 2500 words), poetry, photo-essays, short films/video (uploaded to Vimeo), visual and sound art (jpeg Max 1MB), or a combination of these. Please direct inquiries and submissions to Guest Editors Chloë Taylor Taylor and Kelly Struthers Montford Struthers.
One way in which women have been oppressed has been through their relegation to the domestic sphere and through their domestic labour, and so it makes sense to consider women domesticated rather than feral animals. Indeed, in classic works such as “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex” and “In and Out of Harm’s Way: Arrogance and Love,” radical feminist theorists Gayle Rubin and Marilyn Frye describe gendering as domestication. More recently, in “After Alice, After Cats,”
Jessica Polish notes that, for Kant, women were originally and quite literally domesticated animals for men; for example, Polish argues that women may have been men’s first domesticated animals. Kant writes that woman was initially a mule, “loaded down with his [man’s] household belongings,” and later, with the development of polygamous marriage, became more like a dog in man’s harem—or, as Kant puts it, “kennel.” Polish argues that, for Kant, it was only with the domestication of non-human animals that monogamous marriage or “civilized,” intra-human relations become possible between the sexes. If, following Rubin, Frye, and Polish, to become women was to be domesticated, it would seem that undoing gender, to borrow Judith Butler’s phrase, would mean going feral. Monique Wittig long ago described lesbians as “escapees” from gender. Wittig’s renegade lesbian is no longer a woman; like the avian inmate who flees the farm, or the dog who joins the wolves, she has gone feral.
The feral has also been theorized within Critical Animal Studies. In Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights, Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka criticize animal ethicists for focusing exclusively on domesticated and wild animals, ignoring the billions of “liminal” animals who live within human communities without being of those communities or directly subjected to human control. For Donaldson and Kymlicka, liminal animals are in different political relations to humans than domesticated and wild animals, and a different set of moral obligations to these animals is entailed by these relations. Although Donaldson and Kymlicka’s theory is important because it draws the attention of critical animal theorists to a previously ignored category of animal, they arguably subsume ferality into existing neoliberal society in a way that evacuates the feral of its political potential. A more radical approach to thinking the feral within Critical Animal Studies would not domesticate the feral into existing human political categories, but would begin with these liminal animals in order to feralize political theory. In “Taming Ourselves or Going Feral: Toward a Nonpatriarchal Metaethic of Animal Liberation,” for instance, Brian Luke takes up the feminist association of patriarchy with domestication to argue that a nonpatriarchal approach to animal liberation would entail such a feralization of thought.
Queer theorist Jack Halberstam has recently argued that the term “queer” has been domesticated, or is being used interchangeably with ‘gay’ to describe homonormalizing political agendas. For Halberstam, we thus need a new term to do the work that “queer” once did, and he proposes “going wild.” Halberstam argues in Gaga Feminism that we are living in a time of chaos, where the meanings of once stable phenomena such as gender and marriage have become definitionally unstable—things are “going gaga” or “crazy.” Rather than resisting this moment of instability and trying to put definitions back in place, Halberstam argues that now should be a time of (queer) anarchy or “wildness.” Halberstam sees this argument for wildness as building on his earlier argument for embracing failure in The Queer Art of Failure, which takes as its exemplars animated revolting chickens, the anarchic bodies of children, and the failed femininity of butch lesbians. Contra Halberstam, however, “going feral” better describes the situation of moving to a less tamed or untamed state after (failed) domestication, whereas, just as there is no “outside of power” for Foucault, there is arguably no possibility of “going wild.” What we need, then, we suggest, is not so much a rewilding of queer theory as its feralization.
At the same time, this issue seeks to explore the racist, ableist, and class-bound implications of elaborating a theory of the feral. While feral is a provocative concept for thinking a rewilding of queer and feminist theories, it is also a term that has been wielded against marginalized bodies and populations. We thus solicit reflections on the manners in which disabled subjects are seen as feral or out of control, and the ways in which these bodies are domesticated, sequestered, expected to be “patients” and to remain at (or in a) home. We invite speculations on the ways that indigenous peoples and bodies are framed as feral or “savage,” and are expected to be domesticated within the reconciliatory ethos of settler colonialism. We are also interested in exploring the racist routes that ferality traverses—historically, politically, and theoretically. In the spirit of auto-critique, this special issue also invites challenges to our appropriation of the feral as potentially reflecting white privilege. Does our very willingness to celebrate the feral and to propose ferality reflect racial privilege? Although women, including white women, have been viewed as less than fully human and have been associated with animals, the history of animalizing people of colour of both sexes has arguably been even more brutal. Might it be that we are willing to invite identifications with the feral and cultivations of a feral feminism—despite their strong connotations of animality—because we are not among those people who have been denigrated as beastly, savage, primitive, and uncivilized with the most oppressive effects?
Turning to environmental theory, feminist philosophers such as Claire Colebrook and Joanna Zylinska have begun to grapple with what feminist theory and ethics, respectively, should look like in the Anthropocene. Essayists such as George Monbiot encourage rewilding as a way to reconnect with nature and, in turn, our sense of wonder and enchantment with Earth. As we come to terms with the apparent inevitability of ecological catastrophe and mass human die-outs, is it helpful to theorize the feral as an antecedent to learning to live ferally?
While feminist theorists debate the relative advantages of intersectionalism versus interlocking oppressions as models for understanding how different forms of oppression and the subjectivities they produce coalesce and interact, this issue proposes promiscuous matings of theory as a mark of the feral. Far from domesticated pure-breds whose reproduction is constrained by pre-given agendas, ferals interact with each other as they choose and at the moment, producing mongrels. In developing a feral theory, we thus also call for a mongrelization of thought.
We welcome submissions that take up any of the above ideas or explore ferality and feral animals in other ways. Topics and questions may include, but are not limited to:
• crip, queer, and anti-colonial appropriations of the feral;
• critical animal studies reflections on feral animals;
• critical race reflections on ferality, mongrel animals and mongrelized theory;
• feminist, critical animal studies, queer, crip and critical race critiques of sex, gender, normalization and colonization as domestication; • reflections on the potential of queer theory going feral versus going wild;
• Anthropocene feminist perspectives on the feral future of humans.