Derangement and Resistance: Reflections from Under the Glare of an Angry Emu
The situations of emus illuminate the maladies of human societies. From the colonialism that led Europeans to tamper with Australian ecosystems through the militarism that mandated Great Emu War of 1932 to the consumer capitalism that sparked a global market for ‘exotic’ emus and their products, habits of belief and behavior that hurt humans have wreaked havoc on emus.
Literally de-ranged, emus abroad today endure all of the estrangements of emigres in addition to the frustrations and sorrows of captivity. In Australia, free emus struggle to survive as climate change parches already diminished and polluted habitats. We have shot them with machine guns and plowed them down with motor cars. We have parched and polluted their landscapes. But still they stride. Queer in every sense of the word, emus can remind us of the resilience of eros.
Bipeds who stand at about the height of humans, emus view the world from a vantage point that is simultaneously like and unlike our own. So, let us ask: How do emus themselves see their circumstances? How do they see us? How have they coped with both madness and mad-ness? Let’s learn what we can from the living dinosaurs who dodge bullets, jump fences, know very well how dangerous humans can be, and have not yet conceded defeat.
pattrice jones is a cofounder of VINE Sanctuary, an LGBTQ-run farmed animal sanctuary that works within an ecofeminist understanding of the intersection of oppressions. VINE was the first sanctuary to develop a method for rehabilitating roosters used in cockfighting, and jones has written and spoken extensively about the uses of roosters and other animals in the social construction of injurious ideas about gender. VINE also has taken the lead in “queering” animal liberation, organizing dozens of events and publications on the intersections between speciesism and homophobia dating back to 2002. Located in a predominantly white rural region devoted to dairying, VINE includes antiracist efforts in its local campaigns while actively promoting a plant-based agricultural economy.
Prior to founding the sanctuary, jones was a social change activist using a wide variety of tactics in a wide range of movements. As a teen gay liberation activist in the 1970s, jones was among the first to test strategies now used widely by campus LGBTQ organizations. Working within AIDS, housing, and disability rights organizations in the 1980s and 1990s, jones organized kiss-ins, rent strikes, and a coalition against racist policing that led one city to change its practices. As a staff member at a university center for anti-racist education in the 1990s, jones helped activist organizations and academic departments devise strategies for fostering inclusivity and undermining structural bias. Since cofounding the sanctuary in 2000, jones has used her standpoint to encourage the vegan and animal advocacy movements to do the same.
jones has taught college and university courses on the theory and praxis of social change activism as well as in the fields of psychology, gender studies, and LGBTQ studies. VINE works frequently with scholars and has made it a priority to bridge the gap between academia and activism.jones has authored two books — The Oxen at the Intersection (Lantern, 2014) and Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World (Lantern, 2007) — and has published essays in numerous anthologies, including Animal Oppression and Capitalism (Praeger , 2017); Ecofeminism (Bloomsbury, 2014); Confronting Animal Exploitation (McFarland, 2013); Sister Species (University of Illinois Press, 2011); Sistah Vegan (Lantern, 2010); Minding the Animal Psyche (Spring Journal, 2010); Contemporary Anarchist Studies (Routledge, 2009); Igniting a Revolution (AK Press, 2006); and Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? (Lantern, 2004).