**This page along with the ICAS Bylaws are currently being redeveloped.
The Institute for Critical Animal Studies (ICAS), rooted in animal liberation and anarchism, is an intersectional transformative holistic theory-to-action activist led based organization to unapologetically examine, explain, be in solidarity with, and be part of radical and revolutionary actions, theories, groups and movements for total liberation and to dismantle all systems of domination and oppression, in hopes for a just, equitable, inclusive, and peaceful world.
ICAS is committed to modeling in our individual and collective work that scholars can be activists and activists can be scholars.
ICAS (pronounce the the letter “I” and sound out “CAS”) was founded in 2001, first named the Center on Animal Liberation Affairs (CALA). ICAS is the first scholar-activist center dedicated to establishing and expanding Critical Animal Studies (CAS). ICAS has a specific mission, strategic plan, and principles; it is not an apolitical academic association striving to gather all under one umbrella; it is a private political community-based think-tank run by the Board of Executive Directors who make all major decisions for the organization based on consensus-decision-making by the Board. The ICAS Board of Executive Directors are structured as a collective by activists. Each member of the Board are Executive Directors of ICAS, as ICAS eschews the traditional hierarchical scheme of president, vice-president, treasurer, and secretary.
CALA was co-founded in 2001 by two people, Anthony J. Nocella, II and Steve Best. It arose from their seminal co-edited collection Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (Lantern Books, 2004). CALA was developed during the era of the War on Terrorism to defend dissent, revolutionary politics, total liberation activism, and underground liberation groups such as the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front. CALA was the first scholar-activist animal advocacy center to provide education policy, research, and analysis. The first conferences and events of CALA were radical, intersectional, and provided space and place for those who wanted to examine new and emerging ideas from the margins of the scholarly and activist communities. CALA had a number of small projects that came and went, but the two that lasted were the annual Animal Liberation Philosophy and Policy Conference (renamed in 2007 as the Conference for Critical Animal Studies), which was first held at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas.
The other project was the Animal Liberation Philosophy and Policy Journal (renamed in 2006 as the Journal for Critical Animal Studies) founded in 2003 by Best and Nocella.
The term Critical Animal Studies (CAS) emerged out of a great deal of e-dialogue by about a dozen animal rights/liberation scholars and activists around the world in the beginning of April 2007. At the end of April 2007 Anthony J. Nocella II, Steve Best, and Richard Kahn, decided to change the name of CALA to the Institute for Critical Animal Studies (ICAS) and on April 30, 2007 www.criticalanimalstudies.org was launched publicly.
From 2007 to 2010, ICAS was based only in North America with the annual Conference for Critical Animal Studies directed by Nocella, the Journal for Critical Animal Studies edited by Best, and small projects being managed by a diversity of people. In 2007, ICAS volunteers Steve Best, Anthony J. Nocella II, Carol Gigliotti, and Lisa Kemmerer, wrote “Introducing Critical Animal Studies” in Volume 5, Issue 1 of the Journal for Critical Animal Studies, which included the CAS Ten Principles. From 2007 to 2008, ICAS was a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization. In 2009, under the direction of a new board, ICAS changed into a non-authoritarian collective and ended its 501(c)3 3 status. In 2009, Nocella founded the Critical Animal Studies Book Series with Rodopi Press (now Brill Books), which is edited by Vasile Stănescu and Helena Pedersen.
In 2011 and 2012, ICAS became international with chapters on each continent (except Antarctica). Lara Drew, Carolyn Drew, Jess Ice, and Jess Ferry founded ICAS Oceania, Felipe Andrusco and Federico Alfredo Berghmans founded ICAS LatinaAmerica, ICAS Asia was founded by Scott Hurley, ICAS Europe was founded by Richard White, and ICAS Africa was founded by Les Mitchell, Aragorn Eloff, and Anastasya Eliseeva.
In 2012, the Critical Animal Studies and Theory Book Series with Lexington Books was founded by Nocella, which he edits with Joel Helfrichand Scott Hurley. In 2102, ICAS began to have monthly meetings via Skype, but they were not frequent, facilitated, or maintained until 2013.
During 2013, Drew Winter developed the ICAS online store; Rocky Schwartz and Daniel Frank, undergraduates at Vassar College, founded the Students for Critical Animal Studies; Joe Leeson-Schaltz founded the Intersectional Research Collective, of which he is Executive Director; Ian Purdy founded the “Top Five” posts; and the ICAS Executive Directors founded the Annual Tilikum Awards to protest initiatives that ICAS opposes. Finally, in 2013, Alexandra Navarro and Anahí Gabriela González co-founded the Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios Críticos Animales (Spanish Journal for Critical Animal Studies) with the first issue published in 2014.
At the beginning of 2014, Anthony J. Nocella II, John Sorenson, Kim Socha, and Atsuko Matsuoka co-edited Defining Critical Animal Studies: An Intersectional Social Justice Approach for Liberation (Peter Lang), which defines the goals and scope of CAS based on the founding CAS Ten Principles. The CAS Ten Principles are the foundational philosophy of ICAS. As of 2014, ICAS has matured, settled, and become well recognized internationally within the animal liberation movement, while holding to a specific mission and set of principles. During that same year, Ian Purdy founded Scholar-Activist Spotlight and the ICAS Executive Directors agreed to consolidate all the regional websites (which were created in 2012) and LibNow.org into one: www.criticalanimalstudies.org.
In 2015, ICAS set out to streamline and have a more focused strategic plan, so that others within the CAS community would develop their own initiatives, as ICAS does not claim a monopoly on the field. The work of 2015 also included redeveloping the bylaws and mission and developing an ICAS Manual, which contains ICAS’s history and philosophy, administrative structure, guidelines, processes, managerial tools, code of conduct, and official organizing materials. ICAS now also has an active E-Newsletter and online Google Calender to help inform the public of our global activities. In 2015, Johnny Lupinacci became the Executive Director of Publications, which includes managing the development of the three journals: Journal for Critical Animal Studies, Peace Studies Journal (a partner project with the Academy for Peace Education), and Green Theory and Praxis Journal, each of which has its own website. Finally,
ICAS became a 501(c)3 again in 2015, as led by Amber George, the Executive Director of Finance.
DEFINITION OF CRITICAL ANIMAL STUDIES (CAS)
Critical animal studies is rooted in animal liberation and anarchism, is an intersectional transformative holistic theory-to-action activist led based movement and field of study to unapologetically examine, explain, be in solidarity with, and be part of radical and revolutionary actions, theories, groups and movements for total liberation and to dismantle all systems of domination and oppression, in hopes for a just, equitable, inclusive, and peaceful world. – ICAS, 2016
ICAS argues that those who claim to be Critical Animal Studies advocates must also be activists as well as scholars. While important and necessary, ICAS does not believe writing, teaching, and educating equate with activism. Activism involves public grass-roots escalation tactics such as protesting, sit-ins, boycotts, walkouts, rallies, marches/rolls, civil disobedience, blockades, candle light vigils, rallies, fasts, hunger strikes, social media events, memes, petitions, banner drops, home demonstrations, armed resistance, underground resistance, liberations, and property destruction.
ICAS’S STRATEGIC PLAN
ICAS works to accomplish its mission by embracing (1) Theory and (2) Practice.
1. Theory is scholarship, which includes research, publishing, presenting, workshops, lectures, debates, trainings, teach-ins, conferences, books, journals, documentaries, and book series.
2. Practice is activism, which includes protests, rallies, sit-ins, die-ins, rallies, press conferences, candle light vigils, boycotts, civil disobedience, banner drops, letter writing to prisoners, home demos, occupations, leafleting, tabling, blockades, call-ins, petitions, memes, and social media activism.
ICAS’s CORE BELIEF
For more specifics on ICAS’s beliefs, view “CAS Ten Principles.”