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 2021-2022 Colloquium series. Co-sponsored by the American Sociological Association’s Section on Animals and Society and the Animals & Society Institute.
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.