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Shattering Silence: Tracing Speciesism in Philippine Children’s Literature

Chryssa Celestino


What does it mean to write the animal? In Philippine children’s literature where the population of the nonhuman animal is difficult to ignore, writing (about) them is supposed to aspire familiarization: an action that guides the child reader toward concepts of animality. The nonhuman animal has also been recognized as therapeutic narrative elements, aids in identity construction, and effective fictional teachers of species relationships. The inclusion and, more accurately, the functions of the nonhuman animal in the text, however, are symptomatic of speciesism: the belief in human superiority, and the redundant establishment of their supremacy. Influenced by the insights of the likes of Jacques Derrida, Tony Milligan, Tom Regan and the plights of the “animal turn,” this paper exposes the
speciesist and marginalizing misrepresentation of nonhuman animals in both word and visuals that exist in select children’s picture books. Both sides of the binary—the human/nonhuman animal—are significant elements in the discussion; to talk about one side entails remembering the other. Hence, an exploration of representation yields conclusions about the literary, and perhaps even the real, relationship between the two. The dangers these misrepresentations and conclusions pose to the mindset of children not only prove threatening to nonhuman animals, but also to the construct of equal significance among species.


Human-animal studies; Philippine fiction; distanced approach; intrinsic value; inherent value

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2015.02410