Repression and Animal Advocacy
thesisposted on 14.01.2022, 13:09 by Melvin Josse
This thesis looks at the dynamics of contention around animal advocacy in four European countries. More specifically, it aims at understanding how and why State and private actors respond to the animal protection movement in attempting to repress it. For this task, it develops a typology of repression centred around three main forms: coercive repression, that encompasses diverse tactics to contain or proactively counter animal advocates within the existing moral and legislative frameworks and legislative and discursive criminalisation. The former consists in the creation of ad hoc laws, while the latter relies on the promotion of a rhetoric that frames activists as extremists or terrorists, or the animal rights ideology itself as dangerous, through a series of processes identified via the development of a specific typology. The cases studied in this work are the UK, Austria and Spain, where significant repression of animal advocates occurred, and Italy, where less repression occurred in a first period, before waning as the movement was gaining momentum–despite a significant level of underground direct action. This work constitutes the first account of the Italian and Spanish movements and their repression. After presenting the main features of the movement’s history and structure in each country, the thesis analyses instances of repression and seeks to determine what factors can enable an understanding of the occurrence of repression. To do so, it tests two traditional hypotheses put forth by repression theorists, pertaining to the threatening character of a movement to repressive agents and to its weakness, that would present less risk of a backfire. The thesis concludes that the repression of the movement is better understood as a result of (varying aspects of) threat in the UK and Austria, weakness in Spain and weakness, or lack thereof, in Italy.