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Cow protection as ‘casteised speciesism’: sacralisation, commercialisation and politicisation
journal contributionposted on 2018-04-01, 00:00 authored by Yamini NarayananYamini Narayanan
© 2018 South Asian Studies Association of Australia. Offering a more-than-human sociological analysis of cow protectionism in India, this article argues that the discourse renders bovines vulnerable because it reinforces two compatible and comparable oppressions: ‘casteism’ and ‘speciesism’. It privileges upper-caste Hindu nationalists whose identity politics are intertwined with sacralising native cows and their milk, producing ‘casteised speciesism’. Through interviews with experts engaged in cow protection, the article demonstrates that native Indian breeds are burdened with representing Hindu purity, while buffalo and crossbred or Jersey cows are exposed to exploitation and oppression comparable to the situation faced by Dalits. To be meaningful for the animals, protectionism needs to be embedded in an animal rights movement that employs vulnerabilities as a framework to deconstruct the oppression of non-humans.