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May 20, 2024

Sharon Patricia Holland

an other


In an other, Sharon Patricia Holland offers a new theorization of the human animal/divide by shifting focus from distinction toward relation in ways that acknowledge that humans are also animals. Holland centers ethical commitments over ontological concerns to spotlight those moments when Black people ethically relate with animals. Drawing on writers and thinkers ranging from Hortense Spillers, Sara Ahmed, Toni Morrison, and C. E. Morgan to Jane Bennett, Jacques Derrida, and Donna Haraway, Holland decenters the human in Black feminist thought to interrogate blackness, insurgence, flesh, and femaleness. She examines MOVE’s incarnation as an animal liberation group; uses sovereignty in Morrison’s A Mercy to understand blackness, indigeneity, and the animal; analyzes Charles Burnett’s films as commentaries on the place of animals in Black life; and shows how equestrian novels address Black and animal life in ways that rehearse the practices of the slavocracy. By focusing on doing rather than being, Holland demonstrates that Black life is not solely likened to animal life; it is relational and world-forming with animal lives.

“With her characteristic brilliance and speculative flair, Sharon Patricia Holland breaks new ground in an other, a book that will prove to be her most philosophical and speculative text yet. Holland pulls at the ways that blackness as ontology and epistemology undoes and ethically remakes the bio/zoopolitical distinction between animals and humans. She remakes the very ideas that underline life itself as a human project that both denies and relies on animality: love, death, knowing, being, and ultimately revolution as it happens on the scale of the ordinary and the everyday. An essential volume.” — Kyla Wazana Tompkins, author of Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the Nineteenth Century

“Sharon Patricia Holland’s an other is a beautiful, expansive, rich, and genius gift to a world that could not have anticipated it. Her work at the level of the animal and cohabitation and about relationality and comportment is assuredly a necessary and brilliant offering. Holland’s enormous intervention cannot be overstated. Black studies will not be the same after this book.” — Sarah Jane Cervenak, author of Black Gathering: Art, Ecology, Ungiven Life

Sharon Patricia Holland is Townsend Ludington Distinguished Professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of The Erotic Life of Racism and Raising the Dead: Readings of Death and (Black) Subjectivity, both also published by Duke University Press