The Culture & Animals Foundation (CAF) and the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at North Carolina State University announce the first Annual Tom Regan Lecture, to be delivered by leading feminist theoretician Carol J. Adams. Tom Regan, who served on the philosophy faculty at NCSU for thirty-four years and died in February 2017, was a pioneering figure in the animal rights movement. In 1986, with his wife, Nancy, he founded CAF, which provides funds to support artists and scholars in advancing our understanding of, and commitment to, animals.
Adams has a special connection to CAF and Tom Regan, not least because she was one of the foundation’s earliest grantees. “I knew about Tom Regan’s magnum opus, The Case for Animal Rights, from when it first appeared in 1983,” she says. “I had been working on the book that became The Sexual Politics of Meat since 1974. In 1988, I learned that a foundation he and Nancy had started was taking grant requests. I applied for funding to help me finish my book, and sent in drafts of two of my chapters as support of my grant request. One day, I opened my mailbox and found an incredible gift—a check for $1,200 and a note from Tom. When working for such a long time on a book project and often feeling like I was losing my way, this was an incredible affirmation. With the money, I was able to take research trips to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, which held early-nineteenth-century vegetarian writings. But the support of someone I deeply admired like Tom was equally wonderful for me.”
Adams’ talk is entitled “Animal Ethics and Contemporary Politics.” “Animal ethics is generally understood as the area of philosophy that is concerned with the moral status of animals,” she says. “For me, looking at animals’ status—and challenging it—arises from a progressive political perspective. Once we begin to explore animals’ status, we also need to examine the status of disempowered people who are compared with animals. In other words, the question of the ‘animal’ cannot be pursued without considering the question of human social injustice.
“From that, I recognized that animal ethics offers insights that can aid us as we resist resurgent forms of human oppression. How animals are looked at and treated carries racial, colonial, and gendered meanings. My goal in the lecture is to unspool some of these meanings and to demonstrate the benefits of a dialogue between animal ethics and contemporary politics. In this I will expand upon ideas in my first book, The Sexual Politics of Meat, and my new book, Protest Kitchen: Fight Injustice, Save the Planet, and Fuel Your Resistance One Meal at a Time.”
Mia MacDonald, co-vice president of CAF’s board, says she’s very pleased that Carol Adams agreed to give the first Regan memorial lecture: “Like Tom, Carol is a fearless thinker. She, too, is committed to developing strong connections between social justice and animal rights, and she, like Tom, has made indelible contributions to the continually expanding field of human–animal studies. She will set the standard for lectures and programs we’re developing at CAF.”
As for Adams, she hopes that attendees will gain a lot from her lecture: “I’d love to widen the conversation among those concerned about the status of animals and those who are activists for human justice,” she says. “I think my work, at its heart, is ‘syncretic,’ as one philosopher described it. It’s a result of my own inner dialogue, but it also seeks to catalyze further conversations and invite others into the process of discovering connections and challenging injustice.”
The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held on Friday September 21st at 3 p.m. at Withers Hall, Room 232A, on the campus of NCSU-Raleigh, 101 Lampe Drive, Raleigh, NC 28607. The lecture, which will be live-streamed and recorded, will be followed by a reception and book-signing. For more information about this event, visit the Culture & Animals Foundation, NCSU Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, or Facebook, or contact Emily Lavieri-Scull or Martin Rowe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-414-2275 x 13.