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Schedule & Abstracts

The final schedule for the day is now available:


Abstracts (in Alphabetical Order)

Emily Banfield, University of Leicester

‘Animals and ontologies: addressing the role and meaning of faunal remains in the Neolithic long barrows of Wessex’

Traditional definitions of the Neolithic emphasise a change in the nature of human-animal relationships, from hunter-gatherer subsistence to pastoralism and domestication, characterised by increasing control and domination by humans acting on passive non-human animals, both relationships exploitative and unidirectional. Constructed during the early to middle Neolithic, long barrows provide some of the earliest evidence for species defined as domesticates in Britain. Understanding of the nature and meaning of faunal deposits that are constituent parts of these structures has largely been determined by a view of non-human animals as inert resources and where alternative perspectives have been considered, they remain anthropocentric, seeing animals as symbolic, or proxies for human remains.
Ideas developed within disciplines including posthumanist philosophy, animal geography, multi-species ethnography, and social zooarchaeology that recognise the role of non-human animals in the creation of identities, relationships, geographies and ways of being, hold potential to develop understanding of long barrow faunal deposits. Starting from this position and recognising their potential for the expression multiple, contradictory meanings, the result of complex relationships, faunal remains from Wessex long barrows are being re-examined. Traditional zooarchaeological methods focusing on typological assemblages are being combined with data gathered from depositional assemblages to reconsider material as residues of past happenings, following Lucas (2012: 193-214), and it is hoped that information from isotope analyses will provide further insight. Findings to date suggest that faunal remains from three Wessex long barrows can be understood to express relationships of interwoven, mutually interdependent human-nonhuman lives, and it is hoped that as work progresses, more can be said about the nature of these relationships.

Key Words: Faunal remains, long barrow, Neolithic, human-animal relationships, zooarchaeology, posthuman, assemblage

Steve Birks, University of Warwick

‘Encountering other species during fieldwork’


In this paper I take the opportunity to portray and critically analyze how I encountered and engaged with other species as I conducted participant observation fieldwork in a woodland nature reserve. My participation in the research setting both informed my understanding of my own relationship with other species and changed how I value and engage with other species. Throughout my life I have been interested and fascinated by natural history. As I participate with my informants in their activities, I discovered that they engaged with other species in a multitude of meaningful ways. Following my informants' lead I discovered that I could engage with other species in similar ways. In analysis of my data I drew predominantly on Bourdieu’s concept of habitus and to a lesser extent on Ingold’s concept of ‘dwelling’ and Haraway’s interpretation of the process of ‘becoming with’. As I endeavoured to be reflexive I used the analytical power of these concepts to reflect on my own ways of encountering and experiencing other species. To demonstrate my changing relationship with other species of the reserve I particularly draw on my encounters with three species, the silver washed fritillary butterfly, the wild service tree and the nightingales. In this paper, I deconstruct what these species meant to me and, as a result of my field work what they mean to me now. The intention in making my experience the central object of analysis has been to highlight how my participant observation immersive encounters have drawn me to a form of companionship with other species that I had not previously experienced. I propose in this paper that my experience of engaging with other species has a contribution to make to the quest for less human-centric ways of engaging with other species.

Key Words: Participant observation, habitus, dwelling, becoming with, autoethnography, woodland, wildlife conservation, reflexivity


Rogan Collins, University of Warwick

‘The Anthropological Flying Machine: De/humanisation and Animalisation in US Drone Strikes’

This paper identifies and critiques a narrative of “dehumanisation” that serves to legitimate US drone strikes in the Middle-East. This dehumanisation operates within the official policy discourse on several different but interlocking levels, and is used to describe both “terrorist” and “civilian” peoples: sometimes it takes the form of an animalisation or racialization, while at others it utilises naturalised or mechanistic metaphors. Drawing from Martin Heidegger’s critique of humanism and Giorgio Agamben’s notion of the “anthropological machine”, the paper explores the political implications of these myriad tactics of “dehumanisation” and argues that they help to perpetuate targeted killing as a form of state violence. The paper then moves to several activist attempts to resist or counter this dehumanisation. Two particular cases are considered in some depth: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s Naming the Dead campaign and the #NotABugSplat art installation in Pakistan. While these forms of resistance do attempt to counter the dehumanisation of those living under US drone strikes, I suggest that resorting to rehumanisation as a tactic does not necessarily escape from the same anthropocentric and traditionally humanistic forms of thinking that are used to justify the strikes in the first place; alternative political vocabularies may therefore be needed in order to more effectively counter these innovative new forms of Western state violence.

Key Words: Drones, animality, dehumanisation, counterterrorism, security, violence, Heidegger, Agamben, art, resistance


Rich Gorman, Cardiff University

‘Therapeutic Landscapes and Non-Human Animals: Therapeutic for Whom?’


The concept of Therapeutic Landscapes exists as an analytical framework that creates a critical understanding of how perceptions, reputations, and experiences of health can be associated with a spatial area (Gesler, 1992, 1993; Curtis 2010). However, traditional discourses on Therapeutic Landscapes have been constructed from a solely anthropocentric perspective, completely ignoring and silencing the agency and experiences of non-human animals. This paper aims to problematize, challenge, and deconstruct this human-centrism, responding to Doughty’s (2013) call for a more thorough exploration into the modalities of sharing therapeutic spaces with non-human others, better integrating animals into therapeutic geographies.
Drawing on on-going empirical studies of care farms in the UK I show how non-human agency can create and facilitate a therapeutic engagement with place, whilst simultaneously intruding and disrupting therapeutic processes - highlighting the somewhat ambiguous and unstable role of non-human animals within therapeutic spaces. Critically examining this ambiguity, I question whether these spaces of care are being constructed to evoke health experiences for a solely human audience, relegating the non-human to a state of utility. I highlight the need to develop a critical understanding of the role of non-human animals as both co-constituents and co-participants of therapeutic spaces.
A post-human study of therapeutic spaces needs to become sensitive to a range of different species’ lived experiences of therapeutic interventions, and account for animal presence and agency in a way that manoeuvres around the traditional binary of human/animal. We must question how a multi-species analysis disrupts the established notions of therapeutic landscapes – for whom are these landscapes therapeutic?

Key Words: Therapeutic Landscapes, Therapy Animals, Care Farming, Animal Geographies, Multi-Species

Liz Gray, Queen Mary University of London

‘Lindsay’s Communities of Disease – Emotional Expression and the Species Divide’


From the comparative sciences of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, to the co-operative sciences that followed, the sciences of biology and medicine have always been interested in the human/non-human divide. Cassidy’s work on the history of the One Health movement has shown the myriad of terminology describing the cross-species approach to medicine, and books such as Zoobiquity (Natterson-Horowtiz & Bowers) and Braitman’s Animal Madness have presented these views to the public as new.

In this paper I propose to present a much longer view of the ideas of a cross-species relationship of the health of body and mind. W.L. Lindsay’s nineteenth-century seminal work on Mind in the Lower Animals, alongside his many preceding papers on the subject, sheds light onto a comparative and shared world of both the pathological and the psychological: from cholera and rabies; to mania and melancholia.

Lindsay’s perception of the lack of boundary between the human and non-human resulted in a corpus of work that posed several scientific and moralistic dilemmas: from the importance of vivisection to the rights of the animals and they need to protect them; from the therapeutic use of animals within the asylum to the correct treatment of animals to preserve their own mental health.

Relating his work to that of Darwin, Lindsay’s work outlined a science in which emotional expression became a language by which cross-species communication was possible. And in the later decades of the nineteenth-century, when sympathy was regarded as one of the higher emotions, his Comparative Psychology provided, in his view, a scientific explanation for the importance of equality across species.

Key Words: Comparative, Psychology, Mind, Emotion, Madness


Una Hebden, University of Liverpool

‘Looking at Horses’

My thesis is concerned with the ethics and aesthetics of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. In this paper I explore the many ways in which the horses at the school are ‘viewed’ by the public concentrating on the moral acceptability of allowing public access to the stables where the horses are kept.

Recent research has questioned the acceptability of what is considered to be an intrusion into the private lives of animals namely the photographing of wild animals for TV documentaries (Mills 2010). Other writers such as Berger and Malamud highlight the moral problems associated with spectatorship at zoos. Thus far, little has been written about the effects of spectatorship on domesticated animals such as the horse.

In this paper I discuss my experience of visiting the SRS and going on a tour of the stables and argue that such intrusion evokes and upholds the relational dynamic of mastery and domination over other species in the same way that spectatorship at zoos does. Furthermore, that it serves to support the view that one of the functions of animals is to entertain us, to engage with us and to respond to us. Such objectification of the animal on view, confirms the unequal distribution of power present in such encounters and I suggest that there is a relational dynamic of mastery present when viewing animals that are contained for the purpose. It is precisely because the animal cannot free herself from the gaze of the observer that she is marginalized.

I discuss the behaviour of my fellow observers at the stables, and that of the stallions and question whether these animals are entitled to the same privacy in their lives that we humans are. I propose that they are.


Roslyn Malcolm, University of Edinburgh

‘”The Horses, They Just Know”: The Enacted Practices of Equine Therapy as a Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders’


Autism is characterised by deficits in social interaction and communication, and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). However, reports have recently emerged regarding the benefits of equine therapy in facilitating communication in autistic people. In discussions with therapy providers on the efficacy of the therapy I was told that the horses “just know”. Horses and humans in this context appear to enter into mutually constituting bodily engagements, ‘’becoming-with” each other in the production of social behaviours. The phenomenon thus suggests a form of sociality between autistic and non-autistic people that is not only highly embodied, but distributed across humans and horses. In light of the social deficits that define autism as a disorder, and the humanist notion of the bounded, autonomous individual, the phenomena thus raises the question: How can a passive horse make an autistic person talk? This paper discusses preliminary findings from a current doctoral research project which will go on to explore this provocation and aims to contribute to destabilizing the humanist conception of the subject. Despite the burgeoning field of human-animal studies no anthropological research into equine therapy as a treatment for autism, or any psychiatric illness, exists. I aim to address this lack of research with 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork exploring the engagements of humans, horses, methods of therapy, and therapeutic efficacy, as they are enacted in unpredictable ways at equine therapy centres treating autistic children in Scotland and England.

Key Words: Autism, equine therapy, critical autism studies, trans-species ethnography, posthumanism, ‘becoming with’


Marc G. Wilcox, University of Leeds

‘Do we Owe Dead Animals Respect?’

In 1975 Peter Singer gave us an argument against the harming and killing of animals in order to use their bodies as a food source and a source of clothing. Since then many philosophers have endorsed and reiterated Singer’s arguments and argued that vegetarianism is morally obligatory because of the pain and suffering meat eating, and the use of animal products, inflicts upon non-humans. However it seems plausible that the eating of meat and using of animal products is morally permissible (at least in principle) when it doesn’t cause any individual to experience suffering. In this paper I reconsider this claim. I question whether we can wrong non-human animals through using their corpses in various ways such as, wearing leather clothing, or eating meat that would otherwise be wasted, even if such use does not cause any individual experiential suffering. I consider various arguments against using human corpses in given ways and arguments in favour of respect for the dead. I show that all of the arguments I consider in favour of respecting dead humans by not eating them, or using their bodies for clothing, apply to non-human animals too. As such, there seems to be no good reason to endorse the current double standard that deceased humans are due respect but deceased non-humans are not. Therefore, if we accept that we should respect human corpses in given ways by refusing to eat them, and use them to make clothing, then we must do the same with the corpses of non-human animals.

Key Words: Posthumous Harm, Animal Use, Animal Ethics, Respect, Vegetarianism



Elinor Lloyd: E dot M dot Lloyd at warwick dot ac dot uk

Laura Tucker: L dot L dot Tucker at warwick dot ac dot uk

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