MA in Critical Sociology
Liz Smith (Second year cohort)
"My research explores the experiences, ideologies and strategies of Niagara animal activists within the context of animals used for entertainment purposes at Marineland in Niagara Falls, ON. Marineland has been embedded in an ongoing controversy around severe animal welfare violations, the ethical implications of animal captivity, and its attempts to silence dissent from opponents of the Park. I examine this case as an illustration of a broader theoretical debate on the morality and practical utility surrounding ideologies of animal rights abolitionism, pragmatic welfarism, and speciesist reformism. Through an exploration of these sociopolitical issues surrounding the exploitation of wild animal for human amusement, I hope to contribute new insight in the area of Critical Animal Studies and the philosophical debate of pursuing animal welfare vs. liberation. This thesis is motivated and informed by my experiences in the local animal advocacy community through organizing efforts and direct action initiatives. I was the recipient of the Jack Hallam Animal Rights Award during my BA, and recently I received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant to aid me in the completion of my MA."