Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Environmental Philosophy; Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Department or School/College

Department of Philosophy

Committee Chair

Deborah Slicer

Commitee Members

Christopher Preston, Soazig Le Bihan, Kathleen Kane


genocide, critical animal studies, social death, Claudia Card


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Ethics and Political Philosophy | Feminist Philosophy


“Genocide” appears commonly in critical animal studies literature and sparsely in philosophy to describe human-caused violence against nonhuman beings. However, such uses of the term have rarely been informed by relevant work in genocide studies, nor otherwise formally substantiated. This thesis explores what is at stake when employing the term and proposes a model for appropriate application to nonhuman contexts. Claudia Card’s notion of genocide as social death allows for the consideration of nonhuman animals as victims of genocide. Social vitality is important to the lives of some nonhuman animals and its forcible diminishment results in social death for those nonhuman groups. Thus, instances of violence that inflict social death among nonhuman animals are genocide. By recognizing that nonhumans are, in fact, rendered victims of genocide through human violence against them, we challenge the anthropocentric bias that is fundamental to all genocidal perpetration.


© Copyright 2019 Kirstin Waldkoenig