The Question of the Animal and Religion: Theoretical Stakes, Practical Implications.pdf

The Question of the Animal and Religion: Theoretical Stakes, Practical Implications.pdf


Through an absorbing investigation into recent, high-profile scandals involving one of the largest kosher slaughterhouses in the world, located unexpectedly in Postville, Iowa, Aaron S. Gross makes a powerful case for elevating the category of the animal in the study of religion. Major theorists have almost without exception approached religion as a phenomenon that radically marks humans off from other animals, but Gross rejects this paradigm, instead matching religion more closely with the life sciences to better theorize human nature. Gross begins with a detailed account of the scandals at Agriprocessors and their significance for the American and international Jewish community. He argues that without a proper theorization of "animals and religion," we cannot fully understand religiously and ethically motivated diets and how and why the events at Agriprocessors took place. Subsequent chapters recognize the significance of animals to the study of religion in the work of Ernst Cassirer, Emile Durkheim, Mircea Eliade, Jonathan Z. Smith, and Jacques Derrida and the value of indigenous peoples' understanding of animals to the study of religion in our daily lives. Gross concludes by extending the Agribusiness scandal to the activities at slaughterhouses of all kinds, calling attention to the religiosity informing the regulation of "secular" slaughterhouses and its implications for our relationship with and self-imagination through animals.

Aaron Gross's The Question of the Animal and Religion makes a crucial contribution to the emerging field of animals and religion. As of today, I cannot name another monograph that has specifically analyzed the thinking of the foundational theorists of religious studies such as Mircea Eliade, Emile Durkheim, and J.Z. Smith in regard to animals. -- Barbara Rossetti Ambros, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gross's The Question of the Animal and Religion makes a significant contribution to both the larger field of animal studies and the smaller subdiscipline of animal studies in religion. This is in part because Gross's case study on the brutal and systematic animal cruelty at a kosher-meat-producing company is so important, and especially because Gross's is the first work in animal studies in religion to present such a thorough methodological approach. -- Barbara K. Darling, Wheaton College With this highly original and exciting book, Aaron Gross stands at the cutting edge of a radical reconsideration of the nature of religiosity and theological reflection. Beautifully written, this book has to be read by anyone with an interest in the study of religion. -- Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College

Aaron S. Gross is a historian of religions specializing in Jewish traditions. He is a professor of theology and religious studies at the University of San Diego, cochair of the American Academy of Religion's Animals and Religion group, and founder of the nonprofit organization Farm Forward. He is also the author of Animals and the Human Imagination: A Companion to Animal Studies.

Introduction1. Ethical Tropes in American Kosher Certification2. The Event and Response3. The Absent Presence: Animals in the History of the Study of Religion4. After the Subject: Hunter-Gatherers and the Reimagination of Religion5. Disavowal6. Sacrificing Animals and Being a Mensch: DominionEpilogueGlossaryNotesBibliographyIndex


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