A joint event from the BSA Animal/Human Studies Group and the University of Warwick
Wolfson Research Exchange, University of Warwick
Friday 17th July 2015
We are holding a one day interdisciplinary graduate symposium at the University of Warwick which aims to bring together graduate students currently involved in work on human-animal studies, with a particular focus on moving towards a posthuman (or more-than-human future) based on equality regardless of age, gender, race or species.
Speakers are invited to present ongoing research that calls into question the human/animal binary and problematizes the oppression of nonhuman animals for human benefit. Social inequalities are thus highlighted and called into question from multiple academic perspectives.
The symposium also facilitates networking amongst like-minded students and will be followed by a wine reception in the evening.
Professor Nickie Charles, Centre for the Study of Women and Gender, University of Warwick
Post-human families? Dog-human relations in the domestic sphere
Post-humanism is increasingly influential in human-animal studies and there is a growing body of research exploring the ways in which dogs (and other companion animals) become family members. In this presentation I engage with the argument that the inclusion of animals as family members indicates the emergence of post-human families. I draw on original data from interviews and written accounts to explore the different relationships formed between humans and dogs within the domestic context. These
accounts show that dogs are seen as important family members both because they
provide emotional support and because they need humans to care for them. Dogs are regarded as individuals with distinct characters and personalities; they are seen as active agents who choose whether and how to engage with their human companions; they are endowed with personhood and are understood as both human and animal, similar and different. These perceptions and the practices associated with them disrupt the human-animal distinction, suggesting that kinship across the species barrier is an everyday experience for humans who share their domestic space with dogs. Such disruption does not, however, mean that it is possible to identify post-human families empirically; post-humanism is a way of thinking about the world rather than a set of empirical social relations.
Dr Rhoda Wilkie, University of Aberdeen
‘Creative Marginality’ and ‘Academic Dirty Work’: An exploration of the double-edged nature of human-animal scholarship in a maturing, politicised tainted field
Human-Animal Studies (HAS) signals an ‘animal turn’ is taking place in social science disciplines. Building this innovative, interdisciplinary and politicised area of scholarship has required pioneering scholars/postgraduates to traverse disciplinary and species boundaries. This paper suggests the interspecies focus of HAS research, in more human-centric wings of the academy such as Sociology, can highlight the double-edged nature of human-animal scholarship. On the one hand, ‘creative marginality’ has enabled HAS scholars to open up new areas of enquiry. On the other hand, being associated with this politicised mixed-species subject matter might taint their academic status. Since some colleagues in the next generation of animal scholars endorse a more overtly politicised and transformative agenda, as indicated by the growth of Critical Animal Studies (CAS), this has ignited debates within HAS about activist-scholars and what might be regarded as ‘good’ and bad’ scholarship. One way of exploring these emerging debates is to consider the division of scholarly labour within this atypical social science area of enquiry, and how scholars/postgraduates might have to perform and manage different types of ‘academic dirty work’.
**We are grateful to the BSA Animal/Human Studies Group and the Body, Science and Society Research Cluster at the Department of Sociology, University of Warwick for their invaluable support and financial contributions in arranging this event**
For further information on the event please visit our Facebook page, or contact the organisers on the details below.