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

Paperback | December 2, 2014

byAaron S. Gross

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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.

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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 approache...

Aaron S. Gross 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.

other books by Aaron S. Gross

Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:December 2, 2014Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231167512

ISBN - 13:9780231167512

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. 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. Disavowal, War, Sacrifice: Jacques Derrida and the Reimagination of Religion6. Sacrificing Animals and Being a Mensch: Dominion, Reverence, and the Meaning of Modern MeatEpilogueGlossaryNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Gross's book marks a welcome and important step in bringing animal studies to the study of religion, and religion to animal studies.