Animal Publics: Emotions, Empathy, Activism – Australian Animal Studies Group

Animal Publics: Emotions, Empathy, Activism

The 2015 Australian Animal Studies Group (AASG) Conference, hosted by the Human Rights & Animal Ethics Research Network (HRAE) and the Australian Centre, to be held at the University of Melbourne (Australia).

Sunday July 12 – Wednesday July 15, 2015.

The conference theme is: ‘Animal Publics: Emotions, Empathy, Activism’.

Submissions should be made by November 17 and sent to:

Keynote Speakers:

Anat Pick teaches film at Queen Mary University of London. Her book Creaturely Poetics was published by Columbia University Press in 2011. She is coeditor of Screening Nature: Cinema Beyond the Human (2013), and her nonfiction book, Maureen, will be out next year (published by Hen Press). In 2013-14, Anat curated a series of film programs on flora, fauna, and the moving image at Tate Modern, the Whitechapel Gallery, and the Goethe-Institut. Anat’s current project is titled Vegan Cinema: Looking, Eating, and Letting Be.

Erica Fudge is Professor of English in the School of Humanities at the University of Strathclyde. Her research is in the fields of Animal Studies and Renaissance Studies, on issues as varied as meat eating, dreams, children, laughter, reason, bladder-control, animal faces, pet ownership, experimentation, the wearing of fur, anthropomorphic children’s literature and vegetarianism. She has recently had articles on human-livestock relations in early modern England in the journals Angelaki; Theory, Culture and Society; and History and Theory. Her books include: Pets (Acumen Press, 2008), Brutal Reasoning: Animals, Rationality and Humanity in Early Modern England (Cornell University Press, 2006), Animal (Reaktion Books, 2002), Perceiving Animals: Humans and Beasts in Early Modern English Culture (Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, 2000). Erica is director of the British Animal Studies Network (BASN).

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson is a world renowned author and animal rights activist. After a career in psychoanalysis, which involved the publication of the controversial The Assault on Truth: Freud’s Suppression of the Seduction Theory (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984), Jeffrey moved to writing on the emotional life of animals. His books include the best-selling When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (Cape, 1994) and, Dogs Never Lie About Love: Reflections on the Emotional World of Dogs (Broadway Books, 1998). Jeffrey is a Director of Voiceless, the animal protection institute. His most recent book is Beasts: What Animals Can Teach Us About the Origins of Good and Evil (Bloomsbury, 2014).

Timothy Pachirat is an Assistant Professor of Politics at The New School for Social Research, with research interests in comparative politics, the politics of Southeast Asia, spatial and visual politics, power and the sociology of domination and resistance, the political economy of dirty and dangerous work, and interpretive and ethnographic research methods. His recent book, Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight (Yale University Press, 2011), was produced after working for five months undercover in a slaughterhouse. This ethnographic study focuses on the distancing of the violence of food production from broader society, with serious implications ranging from the sociology of violence and modern food production to animal rights and welfare.

Una Chaudhari is Collegiate Professor and Professor of English and Drama at New York University, New York and Abu Dhabi. Una is a pioneer of animals studies in the humanities and “eco-theatre”—plays and performances that engage with the subjects of ecology and environment—as well as the related field of ecocriticism, which studies art and literature from an ecological perspective. She was guest editor of a special issue of Yale Theater on “Theater and Ecology” and a special issue on Animals and Performance, for TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies (2007). She is a highly respected and award-winning scholar for her books and articles. Her most recent publications include Animal Acts: Performing Species Today (University of Michigan Press, 2014), co-edited with Holly Hughes, and Ecocide: Research Theatre and Climate Change (Palgrave, 2014), co-authored with Shonni Enelow.

Harriet Ritvo is the Arthur J. Conner Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and internationally recognised as a major scholar in animal studies. Her seminal research is foundational to the history of animal/ human relations, the history of natural history, environmental history and British history. She has authored a number of important books: The Dawn of Green: Manchester, Thirlmere, and Modern Environmentalism (Chicago UP, 2009), The Platypus and the Mermaid, and Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination (Harvard UP, 1997), The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age (Harvard UP, 1987),and Noble Cows and Hybrid Zebras: Essays on Animals and History (Virginia, 2010).

Call for Papers :

The human/nonhuman animal relationship is continually in flux. In the twenty-first century our relationship with other species is more complex than ever. Images of animals dominate advertising and the internet. Many people feel a profound connection with their companion animals, consider them part of the family, and grieve when they die. At the same time almost all the species we breed for consumption are processed through the animal industrial complex, and are neither seen, nor heard, nor touched in a living state. Animal exploitation and commodification is increasingly hidden from public view.

The predominance of some species, and the complete absence of others, in our relationships with animals, raises important questions about how we understand and empathise with others. Why do so many people have such an emotional response to animals? Why do children bond with animals? What have we lost by excluding so many animals from the public domain – from our cities and day-to-day lives?

New advances in science indicate that we are only beginning to understand the complex nature of the emotional and ethical lives of animals. Philosophers have begun to re-think the way in which they have theorised some form of ‘essential’ divide between human and nonhuman animals in order to define what it means to be ‘human’. Political scientists have begun to discuss the issue of social justice for animals. Artists, writers and filmmakers now question the validity of an anthropocentric viewpoint in their creative works.

In this interdisciplinary conference, Animal Publics, we ask:
How can the lives of animals be made visible – brought into the public domain?
How might they be transformed?
What roles might direct engagement, academic discourse, bearing witness, the arts, or community debate take?
What part do emotions play in the changes taking place across a range of key discourses and in our relationships with nonhuman ‘others’?
How should we understand our emotional response to animals and how important should the emotional lives of animals be to us?
How might the emotions, empathy and activism be brought to bear on making the lives of animals visible in the public domain?

We seek abstracts that address the theme ‘Animal Publics: Emotions, Empathy, Activism’ in relation to humans and other species:

In what sense can we ‘know’ nonhuman animals?
What role does empathy play in the human/nonhuman relationship?
How might the emotions help us to rethink the boundary between human and nonhuman?
How does anthropomorphism influence the human/nonhuman relationship?
Why is the human species so fascinated with nonhuman species?
How can the lives of animals be made visible – brought into the public domain?
How can we use the law to regulate the lives of animals when most animals are absent from our lives?
Why are some species rendered invisible to the public while others enjoy a privileged status?
Why are animals so frequently omitted from discussions about sustainability & the future of global food production?
Why does the human species ‘deny’ its animal origins?
What role should emotions play in ethical responses to animals?
How has science influenced the human nonhuman relationship?
What role do emotion and empathy play in response to species extinction and climate change?
Why do we care more about some creatures than others?
What impact do representations of animals have on the human/animal relationship?
Is ethical consumerism an adequate response to species with whom we do and do not empathise?
What can the ‘othering’ of animals teach us about ourselves?
What role should animal welfare science play in teaching us about the needs of nonhuman animals and other species?
What has the animal protection movement contributed to our understanding of nonhuman animals?
How should we live ethically and emotionally with other species in the era of the Anthropocene?

Submissions are not limited to the suggestions above. Contributions from all disciplines are welcome.


Call for papers (PDF) :

HRAEN Australia

Published by


Coordonatrice du Centre de justice sociale de l'Université Concordia (Montréal) - Coordinator Social Justice Centre (Concordia University, Montreal)

Leave a Reply