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Dogwhistling: Australian Racism and Animal hate

Dog Whistling is an Australian colloquial term for political speech that carries coded messages – most commonly used to describe a form of racist speech that contains ‘plausible deniability’, subtext that can be denied: I didn’t mean that, I was talking about this (see Fear 2007).  It is speech with a forked tongue and locates its cut, its doublespeak along the faultline of the human/animal, disowning and disavowing the ‘bad’ speech to the realm of the animal Other.  That is, it makes racism the home of the dog. The racist is the dog, and the dog is the subhuman racist who laps it up. My concern today is with the dog, and how and why the dog and the dingo (the focus of my talk) is so tangled up in racism.  I want to highlight how animal studies research in Australia requires a good ear for dog-whistling, something which colonial states like Australia, with our haunted landscapes and disawowed histories become adept at producing and also avoiding.  

Fiona Probyn-Rapsey is Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry at the University of Wollongong, Australia. Fiona’s research connects feminist critical race studies and Animal studies (also known as human-animal studies), examining where, when and how gender, race and species intersect. She is the author of Made to Matter: White Fathers, Stolen Generations (2013), and co-editor of 3 books, Animal Death (2013) and also Animals in the Anthropocene: Critical Perspectives on Non-human futures (2015) and Animaladies; Gender, Species, Madness (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2018) with Lori Gruen. Fiona is also Series Editor (with Melissa Boyde) of the Animal Publics book series through Sydney University.