Human-Animal Boundary Symposium III

deadline for submissions: 
May 1, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Mario Wenning and Nandita Batra
contact email: 

A Symposium to be held in Mumbai (India), January 2018 (6-7 January)

Coordinators: Mario Wenning (University of Macao) and Nandita Batra (University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez)

The boundary between humans and non-human animals has been an integral part of philosophic discourse since antiquity, with mounting evidence of language, tool use and general cognitive abilities now leading scientists to contest its impermeability. These lines have been drawn and re-drawn in innumerable ways in imaginative literature, and the various ways in which humans perceive non-human animals have become the subject of study in various disciplines. Attempts to draw a boundary between human and nonhuman animals have involved the artistic imagination as well as philosophical reflection. Throughout the centuries philosophers and poets alike have defended an essential difference – rather than a porous transition – between what counts as human and what as animal. The attempts to assign essential properties to humans (e.g. a capacity for language use, reason and morality) often reflected ulterior aims to defend a privileged position for humans with regard to animals (which were, in turn, interpreted as speechless, irrational and amoral). While this form of humanism has come under attack through animal rights initiatives in recent decades, alternative ways of engaging the human-animal relationship from a philosophical and poetic perspective are rare. The conference thus aims to shift the traditional anthropocentric focus of philosophy and literature by combining the question "what is human?" with the question "what is animal?".

We welcome papers from several disciplines,  including philosophy, religion, and literature. (The latter may also include film, beast fables, bestiaries, fairy tales, myth, and folklore.)

  Papers may also address the topic vis-à-vis its intersection with

  • Ecocriticism/Ecofeminism
  • The Nature/Culture debate
  • Liminality
  • Gender/Sexuality
  • Race
  • Animal Rights and Speciesism
  • Animals and Food
  • The Discourse of Science

After two very successful conferences in Mayaguez and Macao, the Human-Animal Boundary symposium is now moving to Mumbai (India) in 2018.
Please send proposals for a 20-minute paper to Nandita Batra (nandita.batra@upr.edu)and Mario Wenning (mwenning@umac.mo) by 1 May 2017 with the subject line: HUMAN-ANIMAL SYMP PROPOSAL.