Biting Back: A Green-Cultural Criminology of Animal Liberation Struggle as Constructed Through Online Communiqués

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This article conceptualises animal liberation direct action in green-cultural criminological terms (Brisman and South, 2013; Brisman, McClanahan, and South, 2014). To do this, it draws on Johnston and Johnston’s (2020) methodological approach and undertakes qualitative content analysis of animal liberation communiqués published on the website, Bite Back, in 2020. Whilst a significant body of scholarly literature has discussed animal liberation struggles, this article develops an understanding of these often-criminal acts and events within a cultural criminological context (Hayward and Young, 2004). Findings from this analysis reveal three themes. First, activists variously resist and embrace the state and media’s ‘terrorization’ and discursive delegitimating of animal liberation struggle. Activists wilfully play on the framing of themselves as terrorists (Del Gandio and Nocella, 2014). Second, activists are also able to re-contextualise what might otherwise be seen as minor, apolitical events into a much broader liberation struggle. Third, animal liberation activism is frequently and explicitly connected to other emancipatory struggles. To conclude, the article argues that animal liberation activists engage in direct action on a local level, and strategically promote hyper localised instances of direct action globally through online communiqués. In doing so, animal liberation activists engage in a ‘prefigurative integration’ of what might otherwise be dismissed as isolated hyper local ‘petty events’ within a global struggle against violence, exploitation, and oppression (Yates, 2020; Johnston and Johnston, 2017, 2020).

Original languageEnglish
JournalCrime, Media, Culture
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Jun 2022


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