Quarterly Essay 45

Us & Them: On the Importance of Animals

Anna Krien

Release Date:
March 2012
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Winner, 2012 Voiceless Media Prize

For the first time in history, humans sit unchallenged at the top of the food chain. As we encroach on the wild and a vast wave of extinctions gathers force, how has our relationship with animals changed?

In this dazzling essay, Anna Krien investigates the world we have made and the complexity of the choices we face. From pets to the live cattle trade, from apex predators to scientific experiments, Krien shows how we should – and do – treat our fellow creatures. As she delves deeper, she finds that animals can trigger primal emotions in us, which we are often unwilling to acknowledge. This is a clear-eyed meditation on humanity and animality, us and them, that brings out the importance of animals in an unforgettable way.

 “I am not weighing up whether our treatment of animals is just, because it isn’t. That age-old debate is a farce – deep down we all know it. The real question is, just how much of this injustice are we prepared to live with?” — Anna Krien, Us & Them

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Winner of the 2012 Voiceless Media Prize
Shortlisted for the Magazine Feature Writing Award in the 2012 Walkley Awards
Shortlisted for the 2012 John Button Prize


This issue also contains correspondence relating to the previous issue QE44 Man-Made World by Andrew Charlton. Correspondence relating to QE45 Us & Them will appear in the next issue.

About the Author

Anna Krien’s first book, Into the Woods, won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and the Victorian Premier’s People’s Choice Award. Her writing has been published in the Monthly, the Age, Best Australian Essays, Best Australian Stories and the Big Issue.