Developing the field of Multispecies Justice

Image by Danielle Celermajer.

Multispecies Justice is an 18-month FASS Strategic Research Program Project

Justice is commonly thought to be the preserve of humans, and critical scholarship and advocacy principally have sought to ensure that all humans were subjects of justice. More recently, the grave harms inflicted on non-human animals and the environment have come to be understood as injustices, demanding that we ask, ‘what would justice across the human-more-than-human world look like and entail?’

To date, scholars of human rights, animal ethics and environmental studies have worked to conceptualise justice, analyse the production of injustice, and reimagine institutions with a view to their respective subjects of concern (humans, animals, environment). The impacts of the most pressing problems of our era, however – climate change, indigenous rights, resource depletion, and industrial farming for example – cross the boundaries of these fields and subject categories.

Establishing multispecies justice will require reconceptualising justice in a way that is sufficiently capacious and fluid to accommodate the vast breadth of our multispecies world. And it requires our imagining and including modes of representation and other political practices equipped to appreciate and accommodate the justice claims of all ecological beings – individuals, systems, and their relations.

By focusing on the concept, institutions and practices of justice in distinctively multispecies terms, this project will equip scholars with resources to think with the sophistication demanded by our situation, and the tools to contribute to the design of practices, policies, and institutions up to the complex ethical demands of a multispecies and entangled world.

Building on team members’ reputations, integrative work, in theory, practice, and policy, and their deep existing collaborations with writers, artists, museums, theatre companies, and various NGOs, the initiative will focus on key practical questions involved in human/nonhuman entanglements and justice.

This project is the first of its kind explicitly dedicated to multi-species justice. It will establish FASS as the global leader in multispecies justice, producing scholarship that penetrates and transforms the three areas of research (human rights, environmental studies, human-animal studies) and scholarship in various disciplines, at the same time as defining a new field. Most importantly, our aspiration is for these scholarly advances to bring desperately needed insights, perspectives and practical ideas to a world where all species and multispecies relations are beset by grave injustices.