For full details of upcoming events, please see the latest Bulletin.
11 to 13 November, 2016: Leusden, The Netherlands
Animal Politics: Justice, Power and the SAtate
Venue: ISVW, Leusden, The Netherlands
Keynote speakers: Robert Garner, Lori Gruen, Will Kymlicka, Steven Wise, Laura Wright
The focus in animal ethics has long been on the moral standing of sentient individuals. It was argued that because nonhuman animals have interests strong enough to lay a claim on others, they deserve certain inviolable rights, similar to how this works in the human case. In recent years, political philosophers have used the idea of moral animal rights as a starting point for thinking about political rights. It is argued that interests of nonhuman animals should be taken into account in liberal democracies for reasons of equality, democracy, or justice.
The political approach to animal rights provides us with a new perspective on human-animal relations. Conceptualising groups of animals as social or political groups can help shed light on relations, and clarify rights and duties, beyond the micro-level. Using political concepts, such as citizenship or democracy, in relation to nonhuman animals also brings to light their agency in human-animal relations, and shows us how they co-shape what we usually perceive as the product of human activity.
Drawing on existing ideas about human social justice can show us how similar patterns work in relation to nonhuman animals, for example with regard to stereotyping and silencing. These insights can also create interspecies solidarity. The new perspective also raises many questions, with regard to nonhuman animal agency, power relations, justice, and democracy.
Scholars in the broad field of animal studies (including, but not limited to, philosophy, ethics, political and legal studies, geography, anthropology and sociology), as well as professional activists are invited.
Organising committee: Eva Meijer (University of Amsterdam), Janneke Vink (University of Leiden), Floris van den Berg (Utrecht University), Harry Wels (VU Amsterdam), Joost Leuven (University of Amsterdam) and Erno Eskens (ISVW). For more information, please email Eva Meijer at email@example.com
25 to 27 November, 2016: Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany
Animal Encounters: Human Animal Contacts in the Arts, Literature, Culture and the Sciences
Hosts: Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg in cooperation with Nuremberg University of Music
Organisers: Alexandra Böhm and Jessica Ullrich
Venue: University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Department for German and Comparative Studies
Confirmed keynote speakers: Lori Gruen (Wesleyan University) and Roland Borgards (Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg)
For further information, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Conference languages are German and English
One of the main convictions of Animal Studies is the apprehension that conceptions of the human and the animal necessarily depend on each other. TW Adorno already formulated this idea in the 1940s in his philosophical fragment Mensch und Tier and recently Giorgio Agamben has taken up this notion in his influential study The Open. Man and Animal. Even the natural sciences have confirmed this in the meantime; new theories of domestication assume that dogs and humans co-evolved together. Both species can only be understood in their dependency on one another and through a relational historiography.
Bruno Latour’s actor network theory, developed in the 1990s, also proved to be extremely influential for Animal Studies with regard to Latour’s view of societies as relational networks. Human and nonhuman animals are permanently situated in relation to one another and are mutually defined as the ‘other’. If this referral to the other is not only comprehended as an abstract relationship, but rather analysed in its concrete cultural and social manifestations, the term ‘encounter’ becomes crucial. In the modern world, in which, as John Berger famously observed, ‘real’ animals increasingly disappear, encountering the non-human other is not granted. An encounter, in its emphatic sense, requires for example openness for the other, a special attunement (Heidegger) as well as the ability to respond (Derrida). In Entangled Empathy, Lori Gruen has recently argued for an alternative ethics of human animal relations, which focuses on the needs of individual animals and their entanglement with human lives.
However, the arts and literature as well as cultural and scientific practices like zoology or ethology abound with manifold human animal encounters, whose significance as constitutive entanglements have already been noticed, but not systematically and exhaustively analysed for the cultural sciences. What happens in an encounter of self and other, human and non-human animals? The notion of an encounter between humans and animals which creates a contact zone of becoming – crucial to Donna Haraway’s concept of ‘companion species’. In her seminal text When Species Meet, Haraway writes: to knot companion and species together in encounter, in regard and respect, is to enter the world of becoming with, where who and what are is precisely what is at stake. Belgian philosopher and psychologist Vinciane Despret also conceives the encounter of humans and animals as transformative for both species involved. She analyses the anthropo-zoo-genetic practice of the animal experiment, or of ethology, but also in the mundane life of humans, who live with animals.
Despret holds that the exchange between human and non-human animals is constitutive for the encounter and makes them enter a becoming-with, engendering new identities. For Despret, this involvement of creatures is a form of agency, which for her is always interagency or shared agency, creating a fully functioning agent only in their togetherness.
The subject of the conference invites contributions from the literary, historical, visual, film, media and musical sciences as well as from animal philosophy and animal theory, which examine cultural, social, and historic manifestations and practices that can be read with an emphatic understanding of ‘encounters’ and inquire into the structure, possibility and the meaning of encounters between humans and animals.
11 to 12 April, 2017: Stellenbosch, South Africa
Dogs in Southern African Literatures
Call for papers: Dogs – once you start looking for them – appear pervasively in the literatures of Southern Africa. Sometimes they are central characters (as in Jock of the Bushveld). Most often they appear peripherally or incidentally – pet dogs, feral dogs, guard dogs, wild dogs, companion dogs – tangential but apparently necessary. What are they doing there?
We invite the submission of papers for a book collection, in conjunction with a conference. While the book is envisaged as an exploration primarily of literary representations of dogs, the colloquium hopes to open up more interdisciplinary spaces as well, including the visual arts. We hope in this way to attract in-depth essays on dogs in a wide range of genres (by ‘literary’ we include, amongst others, travel accounts, memoirs, diaries, historical material, magazine journalism, even training manuals), and from a wide range of disciplinary and theoretical approaches (historical, anthropological, psychological, and so on).
While J M Coetzee’s treatment of dogs (and animal issues generally) and Marlene van Niekerk’s remarkable dogs in Triomf are of obvious importance, we hope to elicit explorations of neglected periods, spheres, cultures and regions of dog-presence, from earliest days to the present, throughout South Africa and neighbouring states. The following possibilities are intended to be suggestive, and not at all restrictive:
- Representations of dogs in specific genres (for example, poetry, drama, fiction, and so on)
- Colonial and postcolonial, apartheid and post-apartheid representations
- Culturally, regionally, nationally specific representations
- Urban dogs, rural dogs, feral and in-between dogs
- Textual politics of realism, fantasy and anthropomorphism
- Dogs in theory (structuralist/formalist, postmodern, posthuman, CAS, and so on)
- Dogs and aesthetic movements (for example, the Romantic dog, the Modernist dog)
- Dogs and animal rights issues (cruelty, welfare, experimentation, and so on)
- Wild canids (jackals, hyaenas, foxes)
- Dogs and their uses (companions, guards, policing, racing, and so on)
- Dog breeds and breeding as social markers
It is envisaged that a selection of papers from the conference would be considered for the book project, but contributors may wish to propose book chapters without necessarily attending the conference. The conference will take place on 11-12 April 2017, on the campus of the Stellenbosch University at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS, http://stias.ac.za/). Abstracts should reach Sam Naidu, Dan Wylie, Joan-Mari Barendse and Andries Visagie by 30 November 2016 at the conference e-mail address: DogsConference2017@gmail.com