Teresa Llora-Bidart, an assistant professor at California State Polytechnic University, has penned an academic article claiming that Eastern fox squirrels are victims of ‘racialised’ media bias, along with ‘gendered’ and ‘speciesist’ thinking.
Yep, this is an academic article and not a joke.
In fact, the study – entitled When Angelino squirrels don’t eat nuts: a feminist posthumanist politics of consumption across southern California” – was even published in Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography.
Llora-Bidart believes the spread of Eastern fox squirrels, also known as ‘Easties or ‘brown squirrels’, in California has incited bigoted anti-immigration portrayal in the media. She added that after moving to the state a century ago, the immigrant rodents are now replacing the less adaptable native Western grey squirrel, causing the said backlash.
Journalist John Barragan, who prefers native western grey squirrels to Easties, has described the newcomers as “trash-eating,” “trumped-up rats,” and “fast procreator[s] with an appetite for everything.”
Llora-Bidart instantly identified anti-immigrant sentiment in the journalist’s writing, claiming that people are ‘othering’ the Easties by calling them “a non-native … or even invasive animal.”
“I, therefore, juxtapose feminist posthumanist theories and feminist food studies scholarship to demonstrate how eastern fox squirrels are subjected to gendered, racialized, and speciesist thinking in the popular news media as a result of their feeding/eating practices, their unique and unfixed spatial arrangements in the greater Los Angeles region, and the western, modernist human frame through which humans interpret these actions,” she wrote.
It seems academic papers can be written (and published) on almost anything these days.