Animals, Animality, and National Identity (ACLA 3/17-3/20/2016; due 9/23/15)

full name / name of organization: 
Keridiana Chez
contact email: 

This seminar will explore how national identities have been forged through the manipulation and deployment of animals and animality. How have animals, and ideas associated with such animals, been used to construct imagined communities? How have these constructions helped to strengthen or weaken national borders? How have assertions of imagined community, as expressed via relations with animals, overlapped with racial/ethnic identities?

In naming both animals and animality, I allude to the intersection of material practices with the representational appropriation of ideas and values of certain animals, which together forged the affective ties of groups or nations. The seminar also hopes to pursue issues surrounding the internal production of national identities by citizens and residents, as well as tensions arising when "outsiders" attempt to challenge, co-op, or otherwise influence these identities.

Interdisciplinary studies of literature, film, and culture are welcome.

Potential topics include:

• The history of domestication

• Colonial and postcolonial encounters

• "Humane" campaigns against "inhumane" Others

• Distinctions between domestic, wild, and exotic animals

• Distinctions between edible and inedible animals

• Meat-eaters vs. vegetarians

• National dishes (e.g., Icelandic hakarl, Japanese sushi, English roast beef, Jamaican Ackee, Austrian wiener schnitzel, Hungarian goulash, Mexican taco)

• Cultural dishes that, due to migration and diasporas, now transcend national boundaries

• International traffic in animal products

• Taboo animals

• Zoos, menageries, and circuses

• Companion animals

• Breeding (e.g., dogs, cats, cows, sheep)

• Indigenous vs. introduced species

• "Alien," "invasive," and "nuisance" animals

• Species extermination (e.g. wolves, bison) and intersections with racial/ethnic cleansing in the name of the nation (e.g. Native Americans)

• Cultural histories of specific animals chosen to represent nations/peoples, such as the American bald eagle, English bulldog, the French rooster, the Russian bear, the German eagle, the Chinese dragon, the Indian tiger, the Japanese crane, the Costa Rican quetzal, the Senegal lion, the Ivory Coast elephant, the Australian kangaroo, the New Zealand kiwi

• Identities forged through conceptions of animal-animal relationships, such as the Mexican flag's depiction of an eagle eating a snake

• Tensions between the internal and external construction of animalizing/animalized identities (e.g. "Frenchies" as frogs)

Please see the CFP on the American Comparative Literature Association's website here:

Abstracts for papers should be submitted between September 1-23, 2015 through ACLA's website ( Please indicate interest in this panel during your submission. Full panels will be submitted to the American Comparative Literature Association for acceptance into the final program.

The American Comparative Literature Association's 2016 Annual Meeting will take place at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts March 17-20, 2016.