ASI and the Animals & Society section of the American Sociological Association co-sponsor this series which is dedicated to highlighting research by emerging human-animal relationship scholars. This series also features publication workshops, job talks, and research by established scholars in the field. These events are part of the Animals and Society 2021-2023 Colloquium series. Co-sponsored by the American Sociological Association’s Section on Animals and Society and the Animals & Society Institute.
Dr. Irina Frasin, “Gh. Zane” Institute of Social and Economic Research, Romanian Academy, Iasi Branch
Romania has a large population of free roaming cats. This presentation provides a framework for understanding how to be there for these feline friends. Dr. Frasin suggests that by simply observing and learning more about the way cats live when they are less influenced by humans, will allow us to challenge some of the very popular conceptions about them. Treating cats as subjects, partners and co-workers, promotes the idea that we share the city with other intelligent and sentient living beings that have just as much place there as humans; it also allows us to find creative ways to co-exist.
Dr. Irina Frasin is a researcher in the Institute of Social and Economic Research, Romanian Academy, Iasi Branch, with a background in philosophy and history. Dr. Frasin taught Greek philosophy for about a decade. She now focuses her research on anthrozoology, moving from intercultural communication to inter-species communication. Dr. Frasin is co-editor of the series of books Anthrozoology Studies
Co-existence with community cats
Issy Clarke is not an academic but, unexpectedly, a sports broadcaster who has worked primarily in soccer for the past 30 years! However, she grew up in the country on a small holding and has always counted various non-humans among her closest friends. She started a Masters programme in Ethics in 2020 but found the course material too human-focused, and so she left the course and has been working on her dissertation idea as an independent scholar. Isabella volunteers for the Wildlife Trust in the UK and has made films to promote Paws Rescue Qatar.
Animal Cultures: A paradigm for determining what matters to animals
Lindsay Palmer, PhD
In this talk, Dr. Palmer discusses the relationship between attitudes toward animals, adherence to dog-training methods, and gender ideologies. Dr. Palmer discusses how the endorsement of male role norms predict the willingness to use aversive training methods, empathy towards companion animals, and beliefs in human supremacy.
Kicking the Dog: The endorsement of hegemonic masculinity predicts the endorsement of aversive training methods
Dr. Sarah May Lindsay, Department of Sociology, McMaster University
At the intersection of species, ability, and trauma are nonhuman caregivers (carers). In this talk, I explore the contribution of “service”, “emotional support”, and companion animals to the well-being of people in emergency housing, specifically intimate partner violence (IPV) shelters. Through interviews with shelter workers, we find that only certain nonhuman animals and disabled humans are accommodated by IPV shelters. Through a joint critical animal and disability studies lens, we observe a hierarchy of disability as well as species, where certain nonhuman animals and abilities are accommodated in these shelters and others are not. We also find complex and sometimes contradictory opinions about the place of companion, “emotional support”, and “service” animals in residential care settings, including muddling of these “types” by some workers, and the presence and work of nonhuman carers. This work foregrounds the well-being of nonhuman carers, disrupts the division between “type” of animal and disability, and problematizes shelters in their current form. This work adds to what is known about nonhuman carers in social housing settings and is useful for those working in social work and public policy, particularly with multispecies families, trauma survivors, and clients with disabilities.
Service, Support, or Companion?: Species, Ability, and Care in Intimate Partner Violence Shelters
Dr. Gala Argent, Human-Animal Studies Program Director, Animals & Society Institute; Faculty in Animal Studies at Eastern Kentucky University & Dr. Jeannette Vaught, Lecturer at California State University, Los Angeles
How can we better include animal others’—specifically, horses—perspectives in both academic studies and our dealings with them? In this colloquium, editors Gala Argent and Jeannette Vaught will discuss how their new book, The Relational Horse: How Frameworks of Communication, Care, Politics and Power Reveal and Conceal Equine Selves, applies the Human-Animal Studies tenet of presenting other animals’ interests and lived experience to the study of multiple forms of human-equine relationships. They explore how their own backgrounds as “horse people” and how their own evolving relationships with horses informed their vision for the book. They point out possible ways forward where horses’ voices are present, attuned to, and included in both human-equine scholarship and human-horse relationships.
The Relational Horse: Including Animal Others’ Perspectives in Our Relationships and Studies
This colloquium will examine publishing opportunities in human-animal studies using as an exemplary case study an analysis of the history and criticism of Pornocrates, a late-nineteenth century painting by Belgian artist Félicien Rops, in relation to interpretations of human-animal difference. In a relatively young discipline like human-animal studies, publishing opportunities for scholarly research can often seem limited by the available venues emphasizing those animals. Those opportunities, however, are continually growing, and opportunities also exist in avenues outside those that make nonhuman animals their specific focus. The benefit of our discipline is that describing the lived realities of animals within a constructed human social context not only furthers our understanding of animals themselves but also proves revelatory to those who place the bulk of their own research on human-specific concerns, showing them holes in their thinking about the interconnectedness of living beings on the globe.
Melissa Jacobi and Jenny R. Vermilya
This project is a collaboration between an artist and an animal studies academic. Together they critically explore the historical uses of anthropomorphism in classic children’s literature and propose a framework for illustrators who still wish to use nonhuman animal subjects in their storytelling, and who additionally answer to the popular demand for animal-inspired art. Our proposal uses critiques of the harmful impact of anthropomorphism and attempts to suggest ways to be more responsible in cultural representations of animals. The aim of this talk is to present an interdisciplinary analysis of art, culture, ethology, and ecology that uses a symbolic interactionist lens to ask where might children’s picture books go from here (and why they might want to).
Responsible Anthropomorphism in Children’s Picture Books
Valerie Berset, PhD, Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia.
To address biodiversity loss, artificial breeding programs produce and release animals into the natural environment. The biggest question underlying these programs is whether artificially produced animals can be understood and made sufficiently “wild.” In this talk, Berseth draws on interviews with salmon producers working at hatcheries in British Columbia, Canada to examine: (1) how hatchery staff and managers define wildness; and (2) the institutional practices that hatcheries use to produce salmon that are as close to wild as possible. While wildness has conventionally been understood as nature outside of humans, artificially bred salmon provide an opportunity to understand how humans wrestle with what it means for something to be “wild,” when and how to intervene in animal lives, and the implications of doing so.
The Meaning of “Wildness” in Artificial Breeding Programs
Katja M. Guenther, PhD, Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies, UC Riverside, author of The Lives and Deaths of Shelter Animals and Kristen Hassen, MA, Maddie’s® Director of American Pets Alive!
Do we need animal shelters? Are animal shelters the best way to help protect companion animals? What other ways can we envision bringing compassion and care to unhoused companion animals and their communities? After completing research and writing a book on shelter animals and with years of experience helping animals in shelters, Katja Guenther and Kristen Hassen, respectively, have been asking these questions. Together, they have a new vision of caring for unhoused animals and their communities. Join us for this colloquium to learn about their vision and help provide them feedback as they develop a talk to present their ideas to shelters and other animal protection communities. This colloquium is free to attend and open to the public.