Sara Orning: "Being Human, Being Animal: Species Membership in Extraordinary Times"
Sara E. S. Orning (STK) has interviewed academic and activist Sunaura Taylor in the latest issue of New Literary History. This issue also features a response to the interview, written by Judith Butler.
This interview between Sunaura Taylor and Sara E. S. Orning took place digitally, over the course of several months in the spring of 2020, during the time that the COVID-19 pandemic exploded around the world. The exchanges have been edited into the four conversations presented here, dealing with human and nonhuman life, death and vulnerability, racial and environmental justice, and extinction. Sunaura Taylor is the author of Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation, which won the 2018 American Book Award. She is Assistant Professor of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work, which argues for the need to bring animal and disability activism together, has been influential and pioneering in both the academy and broader public contexts. Sara E. S. Orning is Postdoctoral Fellow for “BIODIAL: The Biopolitics of Disability, Illness, and Animality,” a three-year research project funded by the Research Council of Norway.
You can read the interview here.
In the same edition of New Literary History, you can also find Judith Butler's response to the interview, entitled "Companion Thinking: A Response".
The interview of Sunaura Taylor by Sara E. S. Orning takes us through the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the dissolution of networks of care, and the creation of new sustaining bonds. Together they foreground the questions, where are the new systems of support? And how are they working? Taylor has thought more deeply than almost anyone else in academic and activist worlds about the relationship among humanness, animality, and disability. The COVID-19 pandemic is the occasion in which she now rethinks what she has published in Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation (2017), assisted by Orning whose own thoughtful reflections emerge in her capacious and incisive questions. The interview is itself a form of collaborative thinking as well as a form of intellectual care. The question, “how are you living?” precedes the question, “what are you thinking?” But the answer to the latter question returns us again to the conditions of life and the living.
Read Judith Butler's response here.