Animals under Capitalism: Art and Politics

University of Bristol
Institute of Advanced Studies
May 25, 2016

Deadline for Proposal : December 10 (250-300 word proposal)

Bristol Animal Capitalism

Animals under Capitalism: Art and Politics

The University of Bristol invites submissions for a 1-day conference to be held on May 25, 2016, on the subject of ‘Animals under Capitalism: Art and Politics’. The conference aims to explore the relations between capitalism and animal life, and will emphasise the following themes: 1) the intersections between capitalism and the ‘Sixth Extinction’; 2) artistic representations of animals under the aegis of capitalism; 3) the biopolitics of domestication; 4) the development of industrial animal farms.

This conference welcomes a broad range of responses from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, literary studies, art history, politics and critical studies. Other topics might include:

  • artistic responses to endangered and extinct animals
  • the development of zoos
  • animals under the law
  • feminist responses to animal exploitation
  • Marxism and animals
  • animal futures and science fiction
  • animals, class and biopolitics
  • big game hunting and ‘wildlife management’
  • Freud, Darwin, modernity and animal life
  • visual representations of animals in sculpture and painting
  • literary responses to ‘animals under capitalism’
  • pre-capitalist modes of relating to animals and post-capitalist alternatives

Please submit a 250-300 word proposal by the 10th of December to:

Conference Summary

Capitalism inaugurated a new set of patterns vis-à-vis our relationships with animal others. This conference explores what some of those relationship are. In this context, we welcome papers that address the following questions:

1) what ‘structures of feeling’ emerged during the long and complex evolution from feudalism to mercantilism to industrial capitalism in the eighteenth century?

2) Does the ‘animal’ signify different things as new economic systems come to predominate, and, if so, to what extent do alternative conceptions of the animal exist despite (or in spite of) these economic configurations?

3) How are changing relationships with animal life embodied in art and popular culture – in paintings, novels, poetry and folklore? In what ways do artistic representations of animals both embody and resist the dominant cultural understandings of their time?

4)  What alternative futures have artists imagined for animals (perhaps particularly in works of science fiction?)

Date and place: 25th of May, 2016; the Institute of Advanced Studies (University of Bristol)