“What Is the Meaning of the Banner?” by Martin Rowe

The image on the home page and above is a collage that reflects the many social, political, gendered, and racial layers that have formed animal advocacy since 1822. From the left, Richard “Humanity Dick” Martin overlooks a cow, a pig, and chickens confined or chained. (The image of the cow is used courtesy of We Animals Media.) Martin’s image sits atop William Hogarth’s representation of a dog eating his anti-hero Tom Nero’s insides in the fourth panel of his 1751 series The Four Stages of Cruelty. The symbol of the Animal Liberation Front lies beneath the 1909 meeting of Louise (“Lizzy”) Lind af Hageby (center front) with Mrs. Clinton Pichney Farrell, Mrs. L. B. Henderson, Mrs. Florence Pell Waring, Mrs. Caroline E. White, and Mrs. R. G. Ingersol—leading anti-vivisectionists of the Victorian and Edwardian era, whose agitation led to the memorial to the Little Brown Dog (whose statue is glimpsed in the bottom left hand corner of the collage).

The collage reflects the (under-recognized) importance of women in the animal advocacy movement. In addition to the anti-vivisectionists, you can glimpse the book covers of works by Ruth Harrison, Carol J. Adams, and A. Breeze Harper, whose books Animal Machines (1964), The Sexual Politics of Meat (1989), and Sistah Vegan (2010) pioneered, respectively, exposes of the horrors of factory farming, ecofeminism and vegetarian critical theory, and Black feminist veganism. (The Sistah Vegan art is by Janine Jackson.)

The figure of Mahatma Gandhi is superimposed on a contemporary painting of Old Slaughter’s Coffee House, where, in 1824, “Humanity Dick” and others gathered to form what would become the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (which received its royal charter in 1840). Gandhi’s vegetarianism was rekindled when he met the vegetarian activist Henry Salt in London in 1891, and spurred his commitment to ahimsa (nonviolence) and satyagraha (or truth action). These two facets of vegetarianism’s radical tradition are reflected in the logo of the Vegan Society, the raised fist carrying a carrot in the right-hand corner, and the photo from the March for Animals in Washington, DC, in June 1990. The role of religion in fostering kindness to animals is shown via the cover of Rev. Humphry Primatt’s 1776 A Dissertation on the Duty of Mercy and Sin of Cruelty to Brute Animals.

Just as gender and class have been inescapable elements of the struggle for animal rights in the Anglo-American sphere, so have the realities of empire and colonialism. Glimpsed on the right-hand side of the collage are the white supremacist and conservationist Theodore Roosevelt, standing over the body of an elephant he has shot. To the right stands Ota Benga, a Mbuti man from Congo who was displayed as a curiosity with chimpanzees in the Bronx Zoo in 1906. Over the baby chimp he is holding, you can make out the outlines of a cartoon of the arch-imperialist Cecil Rhodes bestriding Africa.

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