The Fellows Present!
The ASI-WAS 2012 Human-Animal Studies Fellowship has begun! The fellowship began on May 29, but really kicked off on Monday, June 4, when we opened up the two-day opening workshop, during which the fellows presented their projects and received comments from their peer scholars, other fellows, and various guests.
The program opened with Eliza Ruiz Izaguirre, who is a veterinarian and PhD candidate in Animal Science at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Her project looks at the problems surrounding village dogs in Michoacan, Mexico, and in particular, how government officials, tourists, and even some animal welfare representatives do not understand the nature of village dogs: are they "owned" or "stray" or "feral?" And how should they be cared for? Bianca Falbo, Associate Professor of English at Lafayette College, commented on her work, and pointed out a number of issues that she might focus on in the future.
Harlan Weaver, who just finished his PhD in the History of Consciousness department at U.C. Santa Cruz spoke next on his project regarding pit bulls. Harlan's work explores the ambiguous nature of the pit bull category and the even more ambiguous, and problematic, notion of what makes a "dangerous dog." Donald Cleary, the Director of Communications and Publications at the National Canine Research Council, commented on his work and provided a context for the "pit bull problem" that Harlan outlined.
Robert Jones, who's an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Chico, spoke next and outlined a very ambitious project which involves coming up with a set of criteria that would define what gives a being moral significance, whether human or non-human. His work set off a lively discussion, which was commented on by Alexandra Horowitz, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Barnard College.
On Tuesday, the workshop opened with Brigitte Nicole Fielder, who just completed her PhD in English Language and Literature at Cornell University. Brigitte gave a fascinating talk, which echoed some of the themes in Harlan's talk, on species, Race, and Humanity in Nineteenth-Century American Literatures, and focusing in particular on the multiple discourses which equated African slaves with animals, and kindness to slaves with kindness to animals. Kim Marra, Professor of Theatre Arts and American Studies at the University of Iowa, commented on Brigitte's work, providing further resources and directions for her to pursue.
Next, we had Gunnar Theodor Eggertsson, a PhD Candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Iceland, who wrote about stories featuring animals, and the role that those stories may or may not play in people's attitudes towards those same animals. Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters at Wesleyan, and the co-host of the fellowship, commented on Gunnar's talk, and gave him a lot more to think about with respect to his work.
Following Gunnar, Sarah Hann, a veterinarian spoke on the question of how small dairy farms and larger dairy farms stack up in terms of animal welfare, environmental problems, and other issues. Her talk sparked a feisty discussion which was led by Sarah's peer, Mia MacDonald, the Executive Director of Brighter Green, an organization which deals with food issues with respect to the environment, animals, justice, and sustainability.
The conference closed with a fascinating talk by Rheana (Juno) Salazar Parrenas, who just received her PhD in Anthropology from Harvard University. She spoke about her fieldwork in Borneo at a number of orangutan rehabilitation facilities, and the complicated ethical problems that emerge in that context. Lori Gruen, Chair and Professor of Philosophy, Environmental Studies, and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan, and co-host of the fellowship, gave an interesting overview of some of these same issues with respect to chimpanzees.
This was the first year in our six-year history that we held an opening workshop rather than a closing conference, and from the comments of those who attended, it was a great success!
Published by admin on 06/07/2012 16:23:40