Humanimals: Examining Histories and Productions of Animal-Human Relationships

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Sara Orning
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Call for papers: Humanimals: Examining Histories and Productions of Animal-Human Relationships

An international workshop on human-animal relations at the University of Oslo, 26-27 September, 2013.

Deadline for abstract submission: 25 July, 2013 to

- How have the categories of the human and the animal changed under the productive scrutiny of animal studies? - What lines may we draw from historical to current human-animal relationships and how they are interpreted and understood? This international workshop seeks to reevaluate and expand our understanding of human-animal relations from a range of disciplinary angles, focusing in particular on moments and periods in history when such relations are highlighted or have undergone change.

The backdrop for this workshop is the rich, interdisciplinary work being undertaken at the moment on the categories of the human and the animal in the fields of animal studies and posthumanism. Work by scholars such as Donna Haraway, Cary Wolfe, Sarah Franklin, and Harriet Ritvo has shown that these categories are unstable, historically contingent, and dependent on particular hierarchies of creatures at particular moments in time. Relations between humans and animals have over centuries produced various understandings of what it means to be human, understandings contingent upon the continual co-production of the very categories of animal and human. In order to examine how we create and organize these categories, we must look at practices and relationships between 'humanimals' across time and space.

What Vanita Seth (2003) calls "the ontological privileging of the human subject" has a long tradition, grounded partly in humanism itself, and animals have arguably most often been the unprivileged counterparts. By now, questioning the species divide between humans and animals and the undercurrent of 'speciesism' in humanist philosophy has a rather long history in the humanities and social sciences, and this workshop intends to take these discussions further.

Anchored particularly in STS, the humanities, and social sciences, but also branching out to natural resource management, politics, and law, this workshop seeks to address several dimensions of the human-animal relationship in recent academic work. It will do so by bringing together scholars from various disciplines and research areas who work on sites of negotiation, interaction, and potential conflict in historical and current theory and practice. The workshop thus aims at facilitating productive, cross-disciplinary ways of discussing 'humanimals'. Potential themes and questions include:

o The many roles of animals in different time periods, for example, companion species, exhibits, weapons, test subjects, food, therapy, extensions of (N)ature or wilderness, etc.
o Moments when the relationship between humans and other animals has undergone changes brought about by science, ideological shifts, or philosophical considerations. For example, the introduction of Descartes' mechanistic view of the human/animal body, the establishment of zoos, modern industrial animal husbandry, advances in cloning.
o How do animals and humans co-constitute each other, both on practical and theoretical levels? Which practices go into this mutual co-constitution? Here it is pertinent to include specific examples of animal-human relations that bring to the fore questions of what humanity and animality may signify.

The first day of the workshop will be open to the public, with two keynotes as well as contributions from a range of scholars. The second day will have closed paper sessions. We encourage PhD students and junior faculty who work on questions of human-animal relations within the humanities, social sciences, natural resource management, and related fields and disciplines to apply to present short papers on the second day. While disciplinary approaches to the material may vary, an interest in animal studies theory is crucial. All papers will be circulated beforehand in order to facilitate panel and roundtable discussions. An anthology of relevant papers coming out of the workshop is under consideration.

Key note speaker: Carla Freccero, Professor of Literature, History of Consciousness, and Feminist Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz.

Contributors: TBA

Limited number of places. Participants will be selected based on abstract submissions. Participation is free, but travel and accommodation fees must be covered individually. The conveners will provide lunch and other refreshments.

Deadline for abstract submission (max 300 words): 25 July, 2013 to

Deadline for paper submission (max 2000 words, roughly equivalent to 6 double-spaced pages): 5 September, 2013.

Papers will be circulated ahead of the seminar and each panel will be appointed two discussants.

Sara Orning (TIK and KULTRANS, UiO)


The workshop is hosted by the Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture (TIK) and the research program KULTRANS at the University of Oslo.