Speakers’ abstracts

Marti Kheel Lecture, Carol Adams, Mongrel Honesty

This talk was prompted by conversations with folks who reject veganism because of its presumed purity. Since we cannot live purely in this world, labeling veganism as purist offers a way to justify maintaining the violent and destructive status quo.  I’m interested in the relationship between something being labeled as “hard” or “unachievable” and how those seen as trying to walk that path get framed as seeking purity.  I suspect this move enables a type of intellectual passivity. I’ll consider new work that offers nonvegans an opportunity to be less omnivorous while representing vegans as absolutists, difficult, and purists, and the benefits that nonvegans get by situating vegans in this way. These attitudes represent an acceptance of truncated narratives in ecofeminist philosopher Marti Kheel’s terms and, importantly, they represent a type of dishonesty.

Historian Timothy Snyder points out that the liberal assumption that cultures will always progress (and not fall into authoritarianism) rests on a fallacy of the “politics of inevitability.” The functioning of teleological fictions that disarm activism and posit optimistic interpretations of the status quo is familiar to vegans. Teleological fictions inform some of the most deeply held justifications of eating meat and dairy: that humans are at the top of the food chain, that we are the evolutionary victors and allowed the spoils (of animals’ bodies and products), and the belief that we are predators not prey. Veganism challenges these fictions, and in doing so may help provide a way of thinking about and undoing the greater teleological naiveté experienced in politics.

These forms of naiveté, of intellectual passivity, and dishonesty must be combatted.  I propose an alternative: what I call mongrel honesty.  Mongrel honesty knows we aren’t in pursuit of purity, and recognizes how the accusation of purity and other conceits to promote the status quo, or at least not shake things up too much, become politically regressive.  Mongrel honesty develops previous work on the feminist ethics of care, but draws from my experience as a caregiver as well and what that has taught me about “hardness,” and what it means to be honest with others.

Rod Bennison, Minding Animals and the challenges facing Animal Studies scholars

John Baird Callicott, Communitarian Animal Ethics: Its Merits and Challenges

The principal animal ethics, Animal Liberation and Animal Rights, are grounded in utilitarian and deontological moral philosophies, respectively, going back to Bentham and Kant in the 18th century. The principal environmental ethic, the Land Ethic, is grounded in the communitarian and affective moral philosophy of Hume, also going back to the 18th century. Animal Liberation and Animal Rights each provide a one-size-fits-all ethic: all beings who meet the criteria for membership in the moral base class warrant equal rights or equal consideration of interests, irrespective of species. Communitarian animal ethics, while theoretically monistic, are pluralistic in application: Appropriate moral regard and treatment depends on the role/niche a being plays/occupies in biotic and mixed human-animal communities. Communitarian animal ethics better accord with actual ethical practice than do Animal Liberation and Animal Rights. Recent advances in the science of animal consciousness, cognition, and agency pose a challenge to Communitarian animal ethics and may provide additional support to Animal Liberation and Animal Rights as does the advance of the Anthropocene.

Jody Emel In Discussion With Jennifer Wolch and Jody Emel: 20th Anniversary of Animal Geographies (Introduced and moderated by Alice Hovorka)

In 2018, it will be the 20th anniversary of the release of the ground-breaking Animal Geographies: Place, Politics and Identity in the Nature-Culture Borderlands (Verso, 1998), edited by Jennifer Wolch and Jody Emel.  Minding Animals is excited to announce a discussion with these renowned animal geographers at the México Minding Animals Conference.


Francisco Galindo, One welfare: towards sustainable livestock production systems

Conventional livestock production systems have been associated to animal welfare problems and unsustainable practices. Consumer concerns over the sustainability of livestock production systems demand research to explore trade-offs between aspects such as carbon footprint, conservation, and animal welfare, in both extensive and intensive systems. This paper refers to an on-going research project carried out in grazing systems in Yucatan, Mexico, including intensive silvopastoral systems (SPSi) composed of trees, shrubs and pastures. SPSi can be an efficient way to produce food, provide environmental services, and promote animal welfare. In this context, a series of studies have been carried out in more than 20 ranches, with different landscape designs and vegetation coverage, representing a gradient of landscape that include farms with fragmented forests, SPSi and conventional monoculture grazing systems (MS), to investigate their effect on biodiversity, ecosystem services, and the welfare of cattle. Furthermore, the trade-offs between sustainability indicators have been assessed using different methods as Life Cycle Analysis.


Marita Giménez-Candela, The De-objectification of Animals: Evolution or Revolution

The animal movement is experiencing great changes at a global level, as well as visible changes in legal systems which, for many centuries, have remained uncompromising regarding the legal status of animals.

The law, through Codification, has concerned itself with animals – within the logic of the ownership of things – in the way that it has covered the most basic needs of life: as products, like means of transport, as means for investigation, as company, as part of shows for the entertainment of human beings.  Likewise, the law has concerned itself with animals in the way that they have been sources of responsibility, in cases of a conflict of interests, with the animal being caught in or participating in the conflict.

Another question is the response that the Law has provided, through the Criminal law, for the mistreatment of animals, where it is the mission of a democratic constitutional State to provide sanctions, when faced with the behaviours that question the efficacy of the punitive faculty involved, above all in the defence of those most vulnerable.

At this time we are going to raise in discussion the significance of the “De-objectification of Animals”, initiated by certain countries, and what the most direct consequences could be. The first of these is asking ourselves whether we are facing an evolution or a true revolution in the animal cause.

Donna Haraway, Caring for Oddkin: Toward Decolonial Multispecies Environmental Justice

Environmental justice must be practiced against human exceptionalism and in resistance to colonial capitalist divisions of species, landscapes, peoples, classes, genders, races, natures, and societies. Easy to say; hard to do. The language and politics of the categories alone can stop us in our tracks. For example, what is multispecies feminist reproductive justice? To get us started, few good dogs will provoke the need and capacity for their humans to become more worldly, and Patricia Piccinini’s Skywhale will fly in demanding oversight above us.  Working within ongoing struggles for multispecies environmental justice in the US southwest, especially struggles tying together Black Mesa activists, Navajo weavers and sheep people, Churro sheep, Southwestern Bighorn Sheep, indigenous and non-indigenous environmentalists, and their heterogeneous and conflicted allies across taxa and peoples, this lecture asks how flourishing on a damaged planet might yet be possible through alliance and collaboration. The lecture concludes with a SF story, a speculative fabulation based on contemporary alliances of arts, sciences, and activisms that knot together Monarch butterflies, their peoples and plants, with airs, waters, and lands across seasons, generations, and countries. Resisting the biogeopolitics of trans-basin water transfers to ever more thirsty mega-cities, the the living and dead critters--including the people--of the Navajo Nation, the US Southwest, and Michoacán anchor the lecture. Making oddkin is the goal.

Óscar Horta, The case for helping animals in need of aid in the wild

Nonhuman animals are massively disregarded today due to prevalent speciesist thinking. Most animal activists are familiar with the consequences this has to exploited animals. However, speciesism also leads us to ignore the situation of animals living in the wild and the ways we can help them. This talk will try to shed some light on this mostly neglected issue.

There is a widespread idyllic view according to which we don’t need to worry about this problem because animals just live happy lives in the wild. Unfortunately, though, there is substantial evidence rebutting this view. Many animals suffer terrible lives and die prematurely due to a number of reasons (including, for instance, starvation, diseases and injuries, stress and hostile weather conditions). While some of them are caused by humans, others are not. The good news, however, is that there are several ways we can help. In fact, in some cases we have been helping animals already for a long time, even if the motivation for this has been often an anthropocentric one – as it happens when animals are vaccinated in mass from deadly diseases we don’t want them to pass to us. Further research may increase significantly our capacity to help more animals in the future. However, in order to achieve this it’s necessary to challenge the speciesist viewpoint that leads us to disregard what happens to nonhuman animals. Granting moral consideration to someone doesn’t just mean not harming them. It also entails acting to help them when we can. This is why rejecting speciesism implies being much more concerned with animals in the wild than we have been so far. This should not be confused at all with an environmentalist viewpoint, as it is sentient animals as individuals that we should be concerned with, rather than species or ecosystems.

There’s a status quo bias stops many people from questioning speciesism. This bias shouldn’t stop animal advocates too from considering new ideas such as that of helping animals in the wild when we can.

Carol McKenna, Dead Zone: Where the wild things were. How factory farming is driving wildlife to the brink of extinction

Today many animals face extinction and it’s not only climate change and habitat destruction which are to blame. The impact of consumer demand for cheap meat is equally devastating and it is vital that we confront this problem if we are to stand a chance of reducing its effect on the world around us. We are falsely led to believe that squeezing animals into factory farms and cultivating crops in vast, chemical-soaked prairies is a necessary evil, an efficient means of providing for an ever-expanding global population while leaving land free for wildlife. Our planet’s resources are reaching breaking point: awareness is slowly building that the wellbeing of society depends on a thriving natural world. Carol McKenna's talk, based on Philip Lymbery's latest book 'Dead Zone: Where the Wild Things Were', takes us on an illuminating investigative journey across the globe, focusing on a dozen iconic species individually in turn to understand the role that industrial farming is playing in its plight. This is a passionate wake-up call for us all, laying bare the myths that prop up factory farming before exploring what we can do to save the planet with humane and sustainable food.

Paulina Rivero Weber, Aggression and violence: animalismo vs humanism / Agresión y violencia: humanismo vs animalismo

Dinner Speaker Jo-Anne McArthur, Stories of Love and Liberation

Ralph R. Acampora, Biophilia: Alienation and Solidarity

Biophilia has been variously defined as the love of life or as an innate tendency to affiliate with other life forms.  It can serve as a basis for an animal-friendly ethos.  Over the course of human history various expressions of, and obstacles to, biophilia have emerged.  I survey these across the spectrum of foraging peoples, pastoralists, and industrial agriculturists, drawing the intermediate conclusion that we stand in an alienated position with respect to other life.  I go on to suggest various forms of solidarity with other animals that can be renewed in the present and future.  Some of this involves a non-anthropocentric reinterpretation of Marx's notion of species being, such that humans would self-identify with broader ranges of organism.

Philip Charles Armstrong, ‘Surprising, Rare, Unconceivable’:  Animal Wonders in the Exotic Tradition

From Herodotus on, the European tradition offers a rich record of wonderment as a primary constitutive of humans’ response to animals – whether the animals in question are encountered in reality, or are merely imagined. According to Philip Fisher, ‘the experience of wonder continually reminds us that our grasp of the world is incomplete’ (Wonder, the Rainbow, and the Aesthetics of Rare Experiences, Harvard UP, 1998, p. 24). My talk will seek to trace the changing function of wonder in response to nonhuman species as it manifests in the literary record. To begin with I will focus on the Fifteenth to the Seventeenth Centuries, and the transformation over that period of medieval into early modern culture and society. This transformation was, in all sorts of ways, experienced through encounters with wondrous species of animals previously unknown (to Europeans), and was accompanied by radical shifts in the systems of knowledge that had previously governed European thinking about nonhuman living beings. I will pay particular attention to the role of wonder in the writings of Christopher Columbus, Antonio Pigafetta, René Descartes, and Aphra Behn. The second part of the paper will conduct a brief examination of the role of wonder in the more recent literary tradition of magic realism, with a focus on the work of Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez, and Yann Martel.

Jonathan Balcombe, Most Eaten, Least Respected: The Rich Lives of Fishes

Fishes are the most exploited of all vertebrates. They are also the most underestimated by us. This presentation highlights some of the many scientific discoveries about fishes that belie their “primitive” reputation and show them to be complex beings whose sophistication rivals terrestrial animals. Careful studies have debunked the widespread myth that fishes do not feel pain. Furthermore, fishes are intelligent and emotional, even Machiavellian. Among their achievements, fishes have personalities, they plan, recognize, remember, court, play, parent, innovate, manipulate, collaborate, keep accounts, show virtue, form attachments, communicate with gestures, fall for optical illusions, use tools, learn by observation, form mental maps, behave differently according to who’s watching (so-called audience effects), and possess culture. Against this backdrop, the cruel deaths of hundreds of billions of fishes at human hands each year—by suffocation, crushing, decompression and bleeding—amount to an enormous welfare problem. Given the ecological toll we are taking on fish species and their habitats, and the ethical toll on legions of individual fishes, we need a new mind-set, informed by science and driven by compassion.


Margo DeMello, The Messy Business of Animal Tourism: The unintended consequences of tourism on Okunoshima

Okunoshima, an island located in the Hiroshima Prefecture in southern Japan, has been  host to a large population of feral rabbits since at least the 1970s, if not before. The rabbits of the island have access to limited vegetation and water, and thus rely for their survival on the tourists who feed them. These tourists, who are largely drawn to the island in order to see, touch, and spend time with the rabbits, have altered the rabbits' lives in ways that have been complicated and unexpected. This talk will use the case study of the rabbits of Okunoshuma to uncover some of the problematics of the increasingly popular practice of animal tourism.

Jane Desmond, Medicine Across Species Lines:  Cultural Dimensions of Veterinary Medicine in the "Exotics" Clinic

This paper offers a preliminary formulation of how human relations with animals are constituted through the practice of medicine in the contemporary veterinary clinic. Drawing on a year of participant-observation fieldwork, I analyze the scientific discourses, technical interventions, and physical practices of medicine as it takes place in a U.S. veterinary clinic devoted especially to “exotic” pets and zoo animals. By comparing the practice of human medicine with that of veterinary medicine, I argue that despite outward parallels with medicine for humans, the specificity of “the animal” emerges in the clinical realm in everything from financial structures, to equipment, to the powers of life and death, and that these vary according to species.

Mylan Engel, Fishy Reasoning and the Ethic of Eating

Ethical vegetarians believe that it is morally wrong to eat meat. And yet, many ethical “vegetarians” continue to eat fish. I explain why it is inconsistent for ethical vegetarians to eat fish, not on the obvious yet superficial ground that fish flesh is meat, but on morally substantive grounds. I argue, in particular, that fish are sentient, cognitively sophisticated, intelligent beings that are just as deserving of direct moral consideration as mammals and birds.


Leonora Esquivel, Avances en el movimiento de los derechos de los animales en países hispanoparlantes

In Spanish speaking countries, the term ‘animal rights’ is becoming a popular expression. Still, when we want to talk about animals people use the word “protection.” When you hear that term it conjures up the notion of dog and cat protection. Sometimes we are linked with ecologists, so people think that we take care just for animals in danger of extinction. Regardless, we take on the challenge to inform about what is actually happening to animals, exposing the myths we have been taught to believe.

Spanish speakers want to serve as the international voice for the billions of voiceless who’s suffering is no less excruciating. Activism is focussed on animals as food,  in laboratories, in entertainment, animals to wear, companion animals and wildlife.
In this talk I will expose the main achievements of the movement in some latinamerican countries and Spain, where AnimaNaturalis is based. Because animals do not have nationalities, so we too have to transcend our borders and extend the fight for animal right abroad and get informed and involved about what is being done in different countries, so we can become a solid and cooperative movement all around.

Greta Gaard, Climate Change and Species Extinction in the Anthropocene: a Critical Ecofeminist Perspective

As Elizabeth Kolbert explains in The Sixth Extinction (2014), the Earth has undergone five mass extinctions in the 3.5 billion years of life on Earth.  Taking the long view of extinction, as Ursula Heise explains in Imagining Extinction (2016), some environmental scientists actually argue that the End-Cretaceous Extinction of 65 million years ago – caused by a meteorite hitting Earth and leading to the demise of the dinosaurs as well as eighty percent of then-existing species – could be seen as good luck for mammals, whose subsequent evolution was enabled by that disaster.  Kolbert even argues that today’s climate change-induced extinctions can be traced back to the middle of the last ice age, for “Man” has been an “overkiller—pretty much right from the start” (230). Linking human migrations with species extinctions, these arguments tend toward a fatalistic view of human behavior as being implicitly species-annihilating, and extinction as having "a bright side."
My talk takes a critical ecofeminist perspective on the stories being told about climate change and species extinction:  it looks at the strategic effects of “long view” versus “present-view” perspective for inducing apathy or activism among broader publics.  It interrogates the ways that environmental sciences describe human impacts in ways that erase differences of culture, gender, and development.  And it asks the question, If we care about the well-being and survival of both individual and diverse species, what kinds of stories will be most effective in bridging climate change science with species justice and climate justice activisms?


Meg Good and Sarah Margo, Shooting Kangaroos and Defending Whales: Australia’s Ethically Inconsistent Approach to Animal Protection

Australian animal welfare laws and policies lag behind the rest of the world in many ways, and local attitudes towards non-human animals, reflected in the nature and enforcement of legal protections, lack ethical consistency. In this presentation, we will provide a brief overview of the Australian legal framework for animal protection, outlining a number of examples of inadequacy. These include, the regulation of the live export of farmed animals and the regulation of intensive animal agriculture. As the examples will demonstrate, Australia has legalised and institutionalised various practices which cause unjustifiable and unnecessary pain and suffering to farmed animals, despite extensive scientific evidence and international precedent for progress beyond these methods. Many of these practices have already been abolished overseas, and would be deemed unacceptable and cruel if practiced on animals in other contexts. We will explore this lack of ethical inconsistency through the discussion of two comparisons. Firstly, we will compare Australia’s differential treatment of two species of wild animal (kangaroos and whales). Secondly, we will discuss why a ban on cosmetic testing on animals in Australia has been supported, whilst attempted reforms to the animal entertainment industry, another form of commonly considered ‘unessential’ animal use, have not been successful.

Lori Gruen, Challenging the Disposability of Animals

Most discussions of our relationships with animals presuppose their status as sentient beings, beings who obviously suffer in the violent systems of exploitation and destruction like factory farms and laboratories.  Combatting the violence that leads to so much suffering has been the primary goal of animal liberation campaigners.  An exploration of various attitudes that characterize our troubled relationships with animals can further illuminate the ways those animals continue to be “other” and thus rendered killable, forgettable, disposable.  By exploring the genealogy of these attitudes, this talk will move beyond animal suffering to highlight the depth of conceptualizations that support continued violence against animals.   It will end with a discussion of sanctuary as a counter to disposability.

Alejandro Herrera, What Should We Do About bees, jumping spiders and roaches?

The main criteria of moral consideration of nonhuman animals are the possession of a Either the central nervous system or the possession of consciousness. Both are Considered as a sufficient, NOT necessary, condition for the attribution of moral value. Some authors attribute the possession of beliefs and desires, and the possession of the capacity of suffering, to animals: such as jumping spiders and bees. Only few philosophers Have Defended That the condition of being alive is a sufficient criterion of moral consideration. I propose to defend That even if bees, jumping spiders, roaches and did not like animals possess the capacity of suffering nor desires and beliefs, our moral They Deserve direct consideration.

Alice Hovorka, Species Relations of Power in Botswana: Making of a Nation

The broad aim of this paper is to articulate how animals, as central actors, are embedded discursively and materially in the fabric of human lives, landscapes and development trajectories in Botswana, Africa. It draws conceptual insights from animal geography and political ecology scholarship to consider that who animals are in terms of species-based characteristics and charisma influences the extent to which humans value, connect to and/or empathize with particular animal groups. In turn, particular animal groups become pivotal actors in realms of, for example, national politics, economic development, land distribution, cultural heritage, social status, and environmental sustainability. These multi-species based socio-spatial interactions shape circumstances and experiences of both humans and animals; they also produce and reproduce differential and often inequitable scenarios for particular animal groups in their relationships with particular human groups and/or other animal groups within space and over time. The paper offers in-depth historical and contemporary empirical insights based on numerous species-based case studies conducted in Botswana over the last decade. Research on cattle, donkeys, elephants, wild dogs, and community dogs reveals their role as pivotal actors in Botswana’s socioecological transformations.

Dale Jamieson

Dale Jamieson is Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, Affiliated Professor of Law, and Affiliated Professor of Medical Ethics at New York University, and founder of NYU's Animal Studies Initiative.  He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books in animal and environmental studies, as well as co-author of a collection of short stories, Love in the Anthropocene.

Will Kymicka, Human Rights without Species Hierarchy

Several recent theories of human rights have appealed to the idea that human rights can be grounded on some account of human dignity. Critics of these `dignitarian’ accounts argue that the idea of human dignity is vague to the point of emptiness. In fact, however, recent discussions of human dignity all make one very specific claim: namely, that humans must not be treated in the same way we treat animals. Whatever else human dignity requires, it requires that we give humans a much higher status than we give animals. In this respect, dignitarian defenses of human rights follow in a long line of other supremacist accounts of human rights, all of which are as concerned to argue that animals do not deserve rights as they are to argue that humans do deserve rights. I will suggest that the human rights project will be much stronger, both philosophically and politically, if it jettisons such supremacist defenses. There is growing evidence that the more people draw a sharp species hierarchy between humans and animals, the more they draw hierarchies amongst humans, weakening the rights of subaltern groups. Defending human rights on the backs of animals is not only philosophically suspect, but politically self-defeating.

Roberto Marchesini, Eight points to go from a zootecnical society to zooanthopological one

This contribution is aimed to present eight steps that I think necessary to go from the current zootechnical society to a zooanthropological one. Let’s have a quick look: 1) The need to redefine our way to interpret “animality” and the need to emancipate it from the historical condition of counter-term related to human. This view change and contaminate the way we look at the other animals, as let us humans be different from the other species. 2) The need to analyze the concept of “animal subjectivity” to get an interpretative model able to explain subjectivity and any kind of its expressions, limited when invoking a conscience or the so-called “superior functions”. 3) The need to admit the animal reference, that is to admin the referential, not performative, contribution of the non-human animals in building human predicates. Therefore, we need to think of the non-human animals as co-factorial in building the human dimension. 4) The need to place again in the centre of controversy the concept of moral patient and the redefinition of the relations among human being as moral agent and their own selves interests. 5) The need to move to a vegan culture, starting from the ecological importance of such a change, to underline how much habitat destruction, agricultural pressure and deplorable exploitation of planet resources will become key topics in the next future. In this sense, vegan choice overcomes Neolithic society; in connection with the vegan choice, nutrition will not depend anymore from animal agriculture. 6) The need to overcome mass consumption and the need to dismiss a solipsistic and individual ontological conception seeking the meaning of external world inside the single individual. 7) The need to overcome the common anthropocentrism; this does not mean to discard anthropocentrism in its entirety, but to avoid a projective vision of animal, to be able to accept diversity, and to recognize an ontological dignity to the other species. 8) The need to acquire more awareness about what it means to respect those animals that have been affected from a strong relationship with human being, such as factory animals, and to understand how it will change our relations with them.

Siobhan O’Sullivan, Animal Activists and their Social Service

Clare McCausland has co-authored this presentation.

In this presentation we consider the work of animal activists through the lens of social service. In short, we wish to reach a conclusion as to how positively or negatively we should assess the work on animal advocates when they seek to gather information about the animal industrial complex via the land, via the sea, or in the air. We find that when animal advocates trespass on land to gather information about how animals live and die in socially invisible places that activity may be considered an act of civil disobedience – provided the advocates undertake their work within the spirit of ‘open rescue’, are non-violent and so long as they use the information they obtain to pursue policy change. We further find that animal advocates engaged in anti-whaling activism on the high seas might too be considered civil dissidents, if they adhere to the same principles. This is despite the challenging trans-national nature of animal advocacy at sea. Finally, we find that the potentially illegal use of drones by animal advocates can also be understood as civil disobedience. However even the legal use of drones poses serious questions around farmer privacy, which we also consider in detail. In sum, we conclude that overall, animal advocates using a diverse range of tactics undertake an important social service, and that with a few simple principles in mind they can be reasonably thought to be minimising harm and maximising joy.

Gustavo Ortíz Millán, Ethics, conservation and resurrection

These talk examines some of the ethical issues around the fight to bring back to life extinct species. Synthetic biology is trying to recreate extinct animals and zoos are developing bio-banks in case these species disappear. However, given the present rate of extinction, and the disappearance of natural habitats, we might wonder about the point of this resurrection enterprise. This points towards a more general questions about the whole conservation movement.


Clive Julian Christie Phillips, Our responsibilities towards other animals

We cannot determine our responsibilities to other animals until we properly understand the reasons for the emergence of animal life. It is distinguishable from both other life forms and inanimate, physical entities by well-known but imprecise attributes, such as the utilisation of plant and animal life for food, the ability to move etc. At the same time all animate and inanimate entities follow natural laws that appear universal. The emergence of animal life on our planet is, to the best of our knowledge, unique, at least to the extent that there are no extra-terrestrial animal life forms that are known to us. A key feature of animal life is the ability to reproduce, which gives the opportunity to vary the form and function of animals of different generations, through sexual reproduction and genetic mutations in asexual reproduction. Crucially from an animal ethics perspective, little thought appears to have been given as to why early life developed into the complex animal life forms existing today. The ability to morph into different forms may have been crucial in the emergence of animal life in environments that varied over time, as a result of geological perturbations, rhythmical variation in climate as a result of the earth’s tilt and external influences, such as from space weather. On earth the emergence of an atmosphere was vital to diminish climatic variation and protect it from damaging ultraviolet rays, which could both create and destroy life. Scientists have long recognised that life forms are most likely to emerge in situations of disequilibria, but changes in the environment over time may have been the prime driver for the emergence of reproducing animals, giving animals a mechanism to change in response to climatic variation. The unique nature of animal life and adherence to universal natural laws suggests a purposeful design that could be the basis of our respect for animal life. As previously recognised, respect for the natural world could include respect for the diversity of the animal life that has evolved over several billion years, and respect for animal sentience, which evolved as an attribute to improve adaption to different environments. Respect for non-sentient animals and for maintaining animal integrity also merit consideration. It is concluded that the highly varied approach worldwide to respect for animal life could usefully be harmonised to a standard approach where all animal life is respected for its uniqueness and integration into the natural world.


Anne Katrina Potts, The Intersectional Influences of Prince: His Animal Rights Legacy

Prince Rogers Nelson (1958-2016) was best known for his joyful funk music and electrifying stage performances that transgressed normative representations of gender, sexuality, race, spirituality, identity and taste. He was also a compassionate person who held deep convictions about freedom and the right of all species to enjoy lives without fear and suffering. This presentation will discuss Prince’s intersectional influences – the various ways his virtuosity over the past 38 years disrupted binaries, challenged assumptions and stereotypes,
advocated for social justice, and combatted speciesism in its many forms. Embedded within the presentation are personal tributes written by fans of Prince who are also animal activists and/or scholars in Critical Animal Studies (including the presenter Annie Potts, as well as Susan McHugh, Dinesh Wadiwel, Donelle Gadenne, Kirsty Dunn, Tora Holmberg, and Nichola Kriek). These ‘memorial solos’ will convey how Prince’s music, image, performativity, compassion and empathy shaped animal advocacy in everyday life.

Kim Stallwood, Topsy

An Asian elephant called Topsy, aged about 28, was electrocuted in front of 1,500 spectators by Thomas Edison in New York on January 4, 1903. Her life represents the treatment of animals exploited by the entertainment industry and symbolises America’s industrial empire. Tormented and abused, Topsy killed people through no fault of her own when she was part of a touring circus. She became a dangerous embarrassment to one of America’s first amusement parks on Coney Island. It took 10 seconds for the 6,600 volts of electricity to kill her. The footage shot by Edison of Topsy's electrocution is recognised as an important development in film making history. Edison wanted to prove direct current was safer than alternating current (the alternative promoted by his rival, George Westinghouse) and thereby win the battle to electrify America. In 1887, Edison began experimenting with animals, primarily unwanted dogs and cats, by electrocuting them to prove AC was more dangerous than DC. These experiments were demonstrated to the press. Even though he opposed capital punishment, Edison secretly paid for the first electric chair to be built for the State of New York. Topsy was murdered because expediency and spectacle conspired with power and profit.

Sandra Swart, Blood, Bones and Baboons – ways of knowing in Africa’s animal history

In 2015, a new fossil from the “Cradle of Humankind” was announced: a species who lived two and a half million years ago. Immediately there was a stern disavowal of kinship from a leading trade Marxist unionist. He tweeted: “No one will dig old monkey bones to back up a theory that I was once a baboon.” When challenged with evolutionary theory, he responded: “Then prove that I was a monkey before – please don't bring old baboon bones.” The president of the South African Council of Churches agreed, adding it was insulting to claim that black Africans descended from baboons. An African National Congress MP declared that it was a scheme by the West to depict black Africans as “sub-humans”. Immediately, a chorus of voices shouted down this “baboon hysteria” and ridiculed these fossil fictions.


But how to understand these responses disavowing our kinship with other primates? I explore the lineages of such counter-knowledge, arguing that these are not merely examples of reactionary ignorance or “wilful unknowing”. Instead, I unpack the history that complicates our understanding of our relationship with the other primates – and indeed, other animals. Fundamentally, I explain why a trade unionist and a bishop both disavowed any kinship with a baboon when a 2.5 MYBP hominid fossil was discovered. They saw it as part of a 500 year conspiracy to justify African oppression. Intriguingly, the objections had roots in such crude Social Darwinism but also in creationist Darwinian-denialism. Bodies of knowledge about nature – and the super-natural – are not static, they are porous and accretive. Moreover, knowing animals incorrectly may be socially strategic and politically useful. I focus on human understandings of the animal Other and – through them – other people. Yet I end by exploring knowledge gained from the baboons themselves.

Joyce Tischler, The Role of Animal Law in the U.S. Rights/Protection Movement

The animal rights movement is one of the great social movements of our generation. It seeks to change the way that humans view and treat other species. Social and political activists in the U.S. use an integrated approach to build momentum and accomplish progress. This approach includes public outreach, education, legislation, litigation, and the newest element: innovation. I will address how litigation has been used in the U.S. to further the goals of animal rights and protection.

Jessica Ullrich, Animals were Harmed in the Making of this Artwork. The Visibility of Animal Death in Artworks

J. M. Coetzee writes in his novel about the fictitious philosopher Elisabeth Costello: „She chooses to believe that obscene means off-stage. To save our humanity, certain things that we may want to see ... must remain off-stage.“ For Costello “what goes on in the slaughterhouses of the world” “must be „hidden for ever in the bowels of the earth.” Death to her is „a private matter; the artist should not invade the death of others.“

Some modern and contemporary artists, however, display the killing of animals in the gallery room and thus situate their artwork between obscene curiosity and the necessity “to save one’s humanity”. Even though these artists often admit that the killing itself and the watching of the killing is difficult and emotionally touching and that they feel guilt, they still believe in an inevitability that releases them from liability. In my talk I want to look at the different justifications of animal killings for art by Hermann Nitsch, Katarzyna Kozyra, Kim Jones and others in order to ask if the killing of an animal in art can ever be addressed „productively“ (Steve Baker). Although the artists recognize the fellow-creatureness and the killing itself takes them a big effort, I want to show that they align themselves in a speciesist logic of animal sacrifice and perpetuates a dominant imperative of social power.

If freedom of art is advocated as a higher good than the right to live, the questionable power difference between human and non-human animal stays untouched.

Martin Ullrich, Rhythm is it: Non-human animals as drummers and dancers

Western music theory has often shown a tendency to put much emphasis on the importance of melody and harmony while at the same time underestimating rhythm as a fundamental aspect of music. This bias has influenced the western discussion of animal music as well. Quite often, phenomena like bird song and whale song have been analyzed primarily as melodic structures. But even in traditional western music aesthetics, music can be constituted by pure drumming: rhythmically structured sounds without discrete pitches. Music without melody and harmony is still music, even in the most orthodox view. So it is quite obvious that drumming displays of non-human animals must play an important part in the field of animal music. Primates (gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos) drum, but also do kangaroo rats, woodpeckers and palm cockatoos. The last even manufacture drumming devices from plant parts and use them for very regularly structured drumming displays, combining sophisticated tool-making with musical activity.

Fitch (2015) has argued to make dancing one of four core components of musicality from a bio-musicological perspective, not distinguishing dancing strictly from drumming. In this definition the above mentioned examples of animal drumming are related to dance. Moreover, there are plenty of examples of other forms of animal dancing, e.g. in cranes, frogs and lyrebirds. Dalziell et al. (2013) have shown that superb lyrebirds independently combine their songs with dance movements.

The rich abundance of rhythmic sound manufacturing and rhythmical movement to sounds by non-human animals clearly indicates the importance of drumming and dancing for research on animal music. At the same time, humans have often exploited the ability of non-human animals to produce and learn dance or drum movements, George Balanchine’s choreography to Igor Stravinsky’s Circus Polka for 50 human dancers and 50 elephants from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (1942) being a remarkable example. Animal drumming and animal dancing as cultural phenomena cover the range from fascinating intra-specific and inter-specific communication to crude exploitation of non-human animals.

Linda Williams, Towards a Critique of the Postman/Posthumanism

The concept of a post-human condition and the discourse of post- humanism are frequently cited as important turns in ecocritical theory and animal studies. Yet questions are much less frequently raised about whether these much-vaunted critical positions might be informed by shaky presuppositions. In discussing the work of recent theorists, this paper aims to identify some of the category slippages and critical non-sequiturs in claims for a post-human condition, or the view that post- humanism is based on unimpeachably strong ethics and strategically incisive social critique. After briefly considering other critiques of anthropocentrism, the paper then asks whether in the context of the crisis of the Anthropocene, or the age of humans, there may be a deceptively casual disingenuousness to the notion that what we are really facing is a post-human condition.

Steven Wise, The Struggle to Obtain Legal Rights for Nonhuman Animals

Western legal history makes clear that the only way in which the even the most fundamental interests of any beings can be protected is by having those interests protected by legal rights. Yet for two millennia all nonhuman animals have been legal "things," entities that lack the capacity for legal rights, rather than legal "persons," entities who possess the capacity for these vital, and other, legal rights. It is often believed, erroneously, that all humans are "persons" and all "persons" are humans. But that has never been true and it not true today. For centuries many humans were "things," while many nonhumans were "persons." Beginning in 2013 the Nonhuman Rights Project in the United States has catalyZed an international struggle, in the courts, legislatures, and media to win personhood for at least some nonhuman animals. Progress is being made.

Jennifer Wolch, Animals in Contemporary Architecture & Design

What are animals doing in design? How do designers see, care for, and use animals? This talk highlights an array of design projects featuring animals, including those developed as part of broad efforts to better integrate cities and nature, including animals. The projects reveal the distribution of attention that architects and designers delegate to certain animals, the standardization of certain animal designs, and which designs circulate in the design public sphere, revealing cultural blind spots and biases of designers. They also pinpoint some of the tricky ethical issues associated with speculative design practice, and with more practical design approaches to creating a lively, animal-friendly city.

Wendy Vilma Woodward, Smelling dogs: figuring dogs' paramount sense in contemporary lyrical poetry

How do some contemporary poets imagine a dog’s paramount sense, when smell is extraordinarily difficult to figure? Howard Nemerov’s “Walking the Dog” presents an anecdote, from the ‘master’s’ vantage point, of a dog’s obsession with sniffing excrement. Ruth Miller’s “Dog” plays with Rilke’s notion of God creating ‘dog.’ The dramatized ‘poet,’ less adept than the dog who experiences the world directly, follows after the canine who comes to an awareness of life through smell. Les Murray’s “Two Dogs” has a pair of dogs glorying in a universe of smells and play. Without any recourse to the human gaze, this uncanny poem swirls the reader into the dogs’ embodied perceptions.

Freya Mathews’ sense of ‘ontopoetics’ has the world as “psycho-active,” which “calls for a new expressive plane.” Poetry, in its de-familiarising of the everyday, is primed to aspire to this expressiveness. Certainly, the last two poems, as animal-centred lyrics, shift the reader’s accustomed ontological identification. The poems undermine or dispense with the traditional lyric-speaker who figures the anthropocentric-personal through human experience. In celebrating dogs’ smelling, the poems of Miller and Murray skilfully persuade the reader to relinquish her accustomed bounded self, and, instead, to revel in canine-scented worlds in imaginatively embodied ways.

 

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