Christopher Jain Miller, Ph.D. is the VP of Academic Affairs and Professor of Jain and Yoga Studies at Arihanta Institute and visiting researcher at the University of Zürich’s Asien-Orient-Institut. He completed his Ph.D. in the Study of Religion at the University of California, Davis. He has authored numerous articles and book chapters on the history and practice of modern yoga, yoga and politics, yoga philosophy, Jain veganism, and Jainism and ecology. He is a co-editor of the volume Beacons of Dharma: Spiritual Exemplars for the Modern Age (Lexington 2020) and author of the book Embodying Transnational Yoga (Forthcoming, Routledge).
This presentation considers the growing global phenomenon of Jain veganism as a contemporary expression of non-violence (ahiṃsā). First, I will provide a working definition for “transnational veganism,” which I use to denote the abstention from animal-derived products whose adherents emphasize, in varying proportions according to regional and cultural context, the positive environmental, animal rights, and human health aspects of the practice. Next, I will discuss how historically, the Jain commitment to non-violence to all forms of life and Jainism’s concomitant karma theory connected with a detailed taxonomy of life forms, inspired and continues to inspire almost all lay Jains to practice a vegetarian diet. At its foundation, the Jain concept of ahiṃsā, at least in its textual origins, assumes that pain is bad, and therefore harming sentient beings is wrong and should be avoided to the greatest extent possible. As I will then show, an increasing number of contemporary diasporic Jains share the concerns elevated by the transnational vegan movement regarding harms intrinsic to dairy production, and in doing have since adopted and advocated for the practice of veganism in lieu of vegetarianism. I will present three examples of this diasporic phenomenon as manifest in the Jain Center of Southern California, UK-based Jain Vegans, and in the Jain Vegan Initiative. In total, I demonstrate how diasporic Jains are finding new opportunities to apply and institutionalize non-violence (ahiṃsā) toward animals, albeit while retaining uniquely ancient Jain religious principles in the process.
Paulina Siemieniec is a visiting researcher at the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law and a Ph.D. candidate in the Philosophy Department at Queen’s University, supervised by Will Kymlicka. At Queen’s, Paulina is the coordinator of the Animals in Philosophy, Politics, Law, and Ethics reading group, the animal research group, and the disability graduate student network. She is also the editor of the APPLE newsletter and an advisor to the Human-Animal Relations student club. Paulina’s research is informed by her volunteer work at Sandy Pines Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
Theorists of the ‘political turn’ are currently debating how to incorporate nonhuman animals into human democracies. While there is consensus on the need to include animals and their interests in political decision-making processes, disagreement stems from how they are to be represented and participate. Most political theorists espouse an anthropocentric and ableist denial of political agency not just to nonhuman animals, but also children and cognitively disabled folks (Pepper 2020).
However, the traditional understanding of political agency, and the wardship model of citizenship that accompanies it, has increasingly been challenged and rejected on moral and epistemic grounds (Simplican 2015). Expanded definitions of political agency as a socially and materially distributed phenomenon (Krause 2011) and inclusive conceptions of democratic citizenship (Donaldson and Kymlicka 2017) are gaining prominence.
This paper presents an alternative option for adopting the distributed account of political agency via a non-citizenship based route. I propose enabling the political agency of animals in and through the varied and particular care relations humans share with them. I demonstrate that appealing to care relations is strategically advantageous for accelerating the animal rights agenda through everyday interactions and crucially, for achieving what I refer to as ‘political access’ or empowerment.
Martina Davidson (they/them) has a Master’s degree from Fluminense Federal University (UFF) in Brazil and is currently studying as a Ph.D. student of Bioethics, Applied Ethics and Collective Health at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in Brazil. They also teach at the Nucleus of Bioethics and Applied Ethics at UFRJ. Martina Davidson is a researcher and expert in topics such as decoloniality, gender and sexuality, animality, veganism, transfeminism and anti-capitalism.
Veganism was delimited in 1944, in the United Kingdom, by Donald Watson, as a way of life that seeks to exclude, as much as possible, all forms of exploitation and cruelty to non-human animals. Its concept originated from a group of people who constituted the Vegan Society, which published newsletters on the subject since the concept was created. Thus, it was performed in this work a contextualization and a historical analysis on the construction of the European Veganism, in order to understand it as a phenomenon and a concept that, since its forging, excluded certain political identities and participants, presenting itself as the result of economic and political particularities of the time. This research was accomplished from the documentary analysis of the Vegan Society magazines, dated between 1944-1954, in association with data on the war policy of the British State about food rationing, the stimulation of the consumption of products of plant origin and plantation on a home scale. Starting from an anticapitalist approach, this work is concerned on demonstrating how Veganism–of European origin–is still operating in a phenomenological and a conceptual way in the contemporary globalized world, manifesting itself as a colonial import; as consumer and an aesthetics society. Thus, from the findings of this investigation, it was possible to conclude that Veganism assumes the role of functional arm of Capitalism and has some of the same brands, present since 1944. Subsequently, through the mapping of the processes of violence and oppression that forged Latin America, through feminist perspectives and the decolonial project, this research is configured as a critique of Veganism and its forging, phenomenon and concept–suggesting, instead, the use of “veganisms”, in the plural. Thereafter, it became possible to introduce veganisms (in counterproposal to a European colonial veganism) as decolonial and anti-oppression projects, and to understand them as something that operates inextricably inserted in an ethical (here suggested the Perspective of the Functioning of Maria Clara Dias) and politics foundation.
Heldi Marleen Lang
Heldi Marleen Lang is a board member of the Estonian Vegan Society while also pursuing an undergraduate degree in philosophy at the University of Tartu in Estonia. She is most interested in the philosophy of medicine and bioethics. Currently, her academic pursuits centre around the ethics of animal testing within the field of biomedicine. In her previous studies, Heldi Marleen Lang has also delved into Estonian literary works, in particular in the framework of ecocriticism.
In my presentation, I would like to reflect on the tradition of animal testing in science: why is it still deemed necessary and why scientists are not seen as sadists after running tests on animals? At the moment, I’m writing my philosophy bachelor’s thesis on the topic „Peter Singer’s arguments against animal testing in biomedicine“. Thus, I base my research mainly on Singer’s „Animal Liberation“. Singer’s main argument is still speciesism, which is supported by the argument on animal tests results dangers to humans and the utilitarian argument. In my presentation, I wish to focus on Singer’s argument on the fact that the tradition of animal tests continues, because scientists and doctors are taught in so-called ethical blindness.
Animal testing is a part of academic work. Whether or not the usage of animals in such tests in necessary, is not even thought about, because these tests are strongly embedded into the scientific tradition. There are instances, where University students, who do not wish to partake in animal tests or who show their reluctance in another way, are not allowed to finish their studies, or are made fun of. Even though publicly it is said that animal tests are useful for the benefit of humans, then a major part of these tests are not even related to that, rather it is done by the scientific community for financial benefit or recognition in science. A white coat, and the title of being a scientist make others respect the person, thus not understanding, why there should be disapproval towards animal testing. For the cosmetics industry, it is easier to get enough signatures for petitions against animal testing compared to the pharmaceutical industry, but both lack the need for the involvement of animal testing.
Denisa Krásná is a doctoral candidate at the department of English and American Studies at Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, specialising in critical animal studies, ecofeminism, and North American Indigenous literatures. In parallel, she works on a book project on decolonial outdoor counternarratives, focusing on the representation of women in extreme sports. An avid vegan highliner and climber, Denisa strives to find balance in life so that she can pursue both her academic and outdoor goals.
Meat and cow’s milk have played an essential role in the subjugation of Indigenous peoples in North America. After being relocated and denied access to their traditional predominantly plant-based foodways, Indigenous peoples have been forced to accept the colonial assimilationist food system that has deepened their dependency on the settler state and has caused various health problems. To protest the violent industrial animal farming practices that involve torture, slaughter, and mass dairying and are build on racist rhetoric, some Indigenous peoples adopt Indigenous veganism as an act of decolonial resistance in the Anthropocene. This paper introduces perspectives of some the most outspoken contemporary advocates of Indigenous veganism, including Billy-Ray Belcourt (Driftpile Cree), Margaret Robinson (Mi’kmaq), Craig Womack (Muscogee Creek-Cherokee) and Linda Fisher (Ojibwa-Cherokee) who oppose the Western concepts of carnism, speciesism and anthropocentrism that were forced onto Indigenous peoples as a form of assimilation. Indigenous veganism advocates highlight that the context has changed dramatically from pre-colonial times and killing of nonhuman animals is no longer in keeping with Indigenous ontologies of interconnectedness and mutual respect. They argue that cultural fluidity is as important as Indigenous traditions and call for the reconsideration of old cultural practices that cause unnecessary harm. Veganism is thus viewed as a new form of ceremony which posits Indigenous people as active agents who respond to changing social and environmental circumstances. Indigenous vegan practitioners also contest the widespread stereotype that homogenizes all Indigenous peoples as hunters and meat-eaters as well as the patriarchal association of meat-eating with male virility. Through veganism, Indigenous people celebrate their connection with nonhuman animals and the land, and remember old teachings while creating new meaningful traditions.
Simcha Nyssen has studied communication and marketing. Fascinated by human intrinsic motivation processes, she went on to pursue the field of business psychology. Since 2019, she has been working on various projects on animal welfare as an independent consultant. Today, she focuses mainly on the global protein shift, technological innovations in cellular agriculture, replacing conventional animal based products by cell-based alternatives and precision fermentation or plant-based hybrid solutions. She represents GAIA as a member of the International Financial Institutions Working Group and the International Policy Forum.
As an animal rights organization, GAIA Belgium has an extensive track record, which includes questioning the large-scale industrial production and consumption of meat. The organization was founded in 1990 by Ann De Greef and Michel Vandenbosch. In 2019, GAIA decided to also work actively on the topic of cultured meat. GAIA and Eurogroup for Animals organized in April 2022 a high-level symposium on ‘The Evolution of Food: Towards Animal-Free and Sustainable Technology” in the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in the European capital Brussels.
As one of the partners of the Green Deal Protein Shift, GAIA is having a social impact study carried out which examines the scenarios for the impact of alternative proteins on employment, the impact on agriculture, social acceptance…
These studies raise very interesting issues. Every change in an installed system comes with opportunities and challenges. GAIA likes to reach out to all parties involved to engage in constructive cooperation and exchange useful information with each other.
With a diverse consortium, RESPECTfarms kickstarted the feasibility studies on January 19, 2023. The consortium exists of RESPECTfarms, the cultivated meat pioneer Mosa Meat, Priva – a leading technology company in agriculture, and the farmer Leon Moonen with the farm Crole. With further support by the meat alternatives’ pioneer from Germany, Rügenwalder Mühle; the Swiss farmers’ union, Fenaco Genossenschaft; the cooperative bank Rabobank; and the Belgium animal rights organization GAIA, RESPECTfarms brings together the essential parts of the food value chain and expertise in relevant arenas. https://www.respectfarms.com/news
RESPECTfarms will conduct a feasibility study on decentralized cultivated meat production with a European consortium.
The funding is given by the European Structural and Investment Funds, executed by the ‘Kansen voor West’ subsidy. With that, RESPECTfarms and partners invest 900.000 EUR into the research.
The feasibility studies are executed by RESPECTfarms with the support of their consortium and their partners. European research partners were selected across the value chain and include an animal rights organization and a farmers’ union.
Vision movie of RESPECTfarms: https://youtu.be/KZFtXKde83s
Maša Blaznik obtained her Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in psychology from The Open University, United Kingdom. She is an independent researcher and writer. She authored the paper “Training Young Killers: How Butcher Education Might Be Damaging Young People” (Journal of Animal Ethics, 2018) and co-wrote the chapter “Denied Relationship: Moral Stress in the Vocational Killing of Non-Human Animals” (in Animals and Business Ethics, Palgrave, 2022). Her rescue cats Taxi and Bubica are her gentle reminders of animal sentience.
Tomaž Grušovnik, PhD, is an associate professor and senior research fellow at the University of Primorska, Faculty of Education, and University of Maribor, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy. He co-edited Environmental and Animal Abuse Denial (Lexington, 2020) and co-wrote the chapter “Denied Relationship: Moral Stress in the Vocational Killing of Non-Human Animals” (in Animals and Business Ethics, Palgrave, 2022).
Recent trends in meat production seem to point to the direction of increasingly mechanized and even robotized slaughter of non-human animals. Artificial intelligence in the form of autonomous systems, powered with specifically devised algorithms, already plays an important role in feeding, milking and shearing (Sparrow and Howard 2021), and slaughter (de Medeiros Esper, From, and Mason 2021; Steen Bondø et al. 2011). The proposed paper argues that automatization of slaughter represents the last stage in physical, emotional, social, cultural, and moral distancing, a peculiar behavioral phenomenon that is present in killing process. Killing namely has an evolutionary rooted negative impact on nervous system that causes severe »moral stress« in perpetrators (Rollin 2014). Because of this military training (Grossman 2009) as well as animal slaughtering (Grušovnik and Blaznik 2022; Slade and Alleyne 2021) use distancing in perpetrators in order to overcome spontaneous aversion to killing.
We argue that animal industrial complex is thus likely to follow a trajectory that will be similar to the history of modern warfare (Grossman, 2009) where soldiers were and are increasingly removed from the battlefield and replaced by lethal autonomous weapons (LAWs). Thus we view the complete mechanization of slaughter where humans will be completely removed from the process as the last stage of distancing. We also argue that total mechanization of slaughter and complete removal of humans doesn’t solve moral issues related to slaughter but in fact even aggravates them, since the very need of distancing can be seen as a demonstration of ethical contentiousness of those acts. Indeed, we lastly point out how ideas about supposedly morally more acceptable forms of robotized slaughter mirror the logic of nazi gas chambers which were designed with the executioners’ wellbeing in mind since they relieved them of the act of killing (Polanyi 2015).
Laura Fernández is a Juan de la Cierva postdoctoral fellow at Universitat de Barcelona, working with the Centre of Research in Information, Communication and Culture (CRICC). Her research focuses on gender, inclusion and diversity. Laura’s research interests include critical animal studies, strategic visual communication, social movements, fat studies and feminist media studies. She has authored over ten academic publications and the book Hacia mundos más animales, published by Ochodoscuatro (Madrid, 2018) and Madreselva (Buenos Aires, 2019). She is a board member of the UPF-Centre for Animal Ethics and a team member of the research project COMPASS.
Núria Almiron is the co-director of the UPF-Centre for Animal Ethics and tenured professor in the Department of Communication at Pompeu Fabra University (UPF). Her research combines the ethics and political economy of communication with critical animal studies, climate change, animal advocacy and interspecies ethics. She has authored numerous articles and edited several books. Formerly a visiting researcher at University of Amsterdam, Université Paris 8, London School of Economics and Political Science, Lund University and Simon Fraser University, she is currently heading the MA in International Studies on Media, Power, and Difference and is the coordinator of the research project COMPASS.
Miquel Rodrigo-Alsinais a Full Professor of Communication Theories at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. He has taught at a number of Spanish and foreign universities. He has been Researcher at the University of Indiana, at the Saint Louis University, at the Université René Descartes, Paris V and at the University of Westminster. He has published more than 160 papers in books and professional journals in Catalonia, Spain and abroad. He is a member of the research project COMPASS (Lobbying and Compassion: Interest groups, Discourse and Nonhuman Animals in Spain).
Authors: Laura Fernández, Núria Almiron, Miquel Rodrigo-Alsina
Animal experimentation is a practice that implies inflicting various psychological and physical harms, including death, on nonhuman animals in laboratories. Because of the increasing social concern and compassionate response by society towards nonhuman animal suffering, the experimentation community has joined the compassion and care narrative towards nonhuman animals.
We examined how the animal experimentation industry negotiates compassion through strategic communication in public relations. To this end, we have studied the discourse of the largest Spanish lobby defending animal experimentation in Spain: SECAL (the Spanish Society for the Laboratory Animal Science). Our main goal was to examine how SECAL’s narrative negotiates compassion – that is, to what extent the lobby’s messages regarding animal suffering in laboratories are authentic (it honestly addresses the suffering of the animals involved in experiments) or manufactured (it is not encouraging compassion truly or if it is even doing the opposite, blocking the natural compassion that emerges amongst the public).
Inspired by the perspectives of critical animal studies, critical public relations, and critical discourse analysis, our research studied a sample of 82 texts from SECAL’s website (www.secal.es). We differentiated three levels of discourse representing nonhuman animals used in laboratories, the animal experimentation industry and society as a beneficiary of the experimentation.
Results show that SECAL is not negotiating compassion with authenticity but rather using humane-washing tactics by framing itself as concerned about animal suffering while at the same time discouraging the cultivation of compassion amongst the public. The rhetoric of this interest group includes the use of non-inclusive and sexist language, the reproduction of the inaccurate human/animal binary that presents humans as superior, and the commodification of animals as mere capitalist resources. Our research reflects that the industry strategically relies on the compassion rhetoric, thereby blurring the contradiction of the inherent harm they routinely cause to nonhuman animals.
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond is an Associate Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature and Luso-Brazilian Studies at the University of California in San Diego. A founding member of the North American Association for Critical Animal Studies, Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond works at the intersection of critical animal studies, decolonial studies and Brazilian literature and culture. Her recent publications include chapters in Heterotopia, Radical Imagination, and Shattering Orders; The Routledge Companion to Gender and Animals; Literature Beyond the Human; The Edinburgh Companion to Vegan Literary Studies and Colonialism and Animality. She also writes for news media, including The Conversation and CounterPunch.
My talk proposes a zoocritical reading of the ancient narrative of star-crossed lovers whose most famous version is Nizami Ganjavi’s “Layla and Majnun” (1188). In this Sufi masterpiece, Majnun’s longing for Layla is a transformative experience which is also a rewilding. Encountering two ambushed gazelles, he perceives Layla in their terrified eyes, kissing them and demanding their freedom: “Is there not room enough in this world for all creatures?…Are their eyes not like those of the beloved?” His rebuke to the hunter — “Imagine yourself as the stag – the stag as the hunter and you as his victim!” – suggests the post-anthropocentric potential of Islamic mystical consciousness. Whereas traditional scholarship situates meat-eating as intrinsic to Islam and casts Majnun’s transspecies friendships in figurative terms, I remove the quotation marks around them to highlight their subversive promise. I further play with bewilderment as a mental state that facilitates the dissolution of speciesist systems of knowledge. For Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi, the disabling of rational faculties is a prerequisite for an encounter with the Real. Pursuing this thread as a poetic opening to a future without animal exploitation, the old English of bewilder means to lure astray, into the wild, what we might think of as the shedding of the human façade. Throughout my talk, I frame my reflections as a eulogy for my canine friend, Akbar, the former stray who guided me at once to Critical Animal Studies and to a metaphysical reorientation. When he became ill, I realized that the name I had chosen – Akbar, which means ‘the great’ – to give confidence to a traumatized mutt, was portentous. “God is Great” (Allahu Akbar) but also, by extension, “Akbar is God.” In the words of the seventeenth-century mystic, Sant Tukaram, “I couldn’t lie anymore, so I started to call my dog God.”
Cameron Dunnett is a Postgraduate Researcher and member of Edge Hill University’s Centre for Human Animal Studies (CfHAS). He is researching the relationship between vegan activism and non-normative masculinities in the UK. To explore this subject, he is drawing on the disciplines of Ecomasculinities, Critical Animal Studies and Intersectional theory and adopting a biographical methodology.
Dominant constructions of masculinity in the Global North make it less likely that boys and men will demonstrate care for the more than human. Traditionally, this has led to men performing gender in ways that are anti-ecological, with various tangible and wide-ranging impacts. Included within this is a reluctance to engage in animal advocacy or animal rights activism and a rejection or even
ridicule of veganism (Greenebaum and Dexter, 2018). These anti-ecological gendered performances often intersect with sexism (including overt displays of misogyny) as well as racism, classism, and ableism (Adams, 2015). My aim is to build on the work of Kadri Aavik (2021, 2023) who found evidence of masculine transformation among vegan men in Northern Europe. My research project will similarly consider whether men who participate in vegan activism in the UK offer a potential pathway towards more ‘ecological’ (egalitarian/caring) masculinities (Hultman and Pulé, 2021). It will then take this further by adopting an intersectional feminist lens to explore the gendered dynamics of specific vegan activist groups/organisations, considering how their values/approaches shape men’s attitudes towards gender and other intersectional justice issues. Currently, this project is still in the planning stage. Therefore, the presentation will focus on introducing the theoretical framework and methodological approach. By adopting a biographical methodology that combines life history interviews with vegan activist men, supplementary qualitative interviews with vegan activists of other genders, and reflexive autoethnography – my hope is to make a unique methodological as well as empirical contribution to the emerging field of ‘vegan masculinities’ (Aavik, 2023).
Bianca Friedman has been enrolled as a Ph.D. student and Graduate Teaching Assistant at Edge Hill University since October 2021. She is studying the representation of horse characters’ point of view in live-action films, and is a member of Edge Hill Centre for Human Animal Studies. An Associate Fellow of Higher Education Academy (AFHEA), she is currently working towards becoming a Fellow. Her main research interests include Animal Studies, Cultural Studies, Film Studies and Queer Studies.
The recent Golden Globes acceptance speeches for The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) winners contain references to Jenny, the donkey who performed alongside Colin Farrell, and to the fact that she has decided to quit the film industry. Indeed, Jenny, which is both the name of the real donkey and the fictional character, after appearing on screen for the first time in her life in Martin McDonagh’s film will never perform again and spend the rest of her live in a donkey sanctuary. By combining Critical Animal Studies, Film Studies and Queer Studies as a methodological network, this paper aims at investigating the entanglements of referring to nonhuman animal stars’ agency by using anthropomorphic narratives. My reflection will focus on these brief speeches and will refer to material from existing interviews. I will argue that anthropomorphic narratives of “speaking for” nonhuman animal stars can obscure both asymmetrical relationships of power and acts of kindness and attention to nonhuman animal individual. These existing discourses about Jenny the donkey seem to privilege similar narratives on her agency and the creation of the audience’s sympathy for her identity as a star, but also represent a curious example of nonhuman animal advocacy camouflage. A Critical Animal Studies approach is therefore particularly productive because it allows us to identify and discuss how opposite instances can inhabit the same narrative, namely the general practice of nonhuman animal exploitation in the film industry and genuinely positive intentions toward nonhuman animal actors.
Olatz Aranceta Reboredo
Olatz Aranceta Reboredo is a Ph.D. researcher in the Department of Communication at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF). They are also a member of the CRITICC Communication research group at the same university as well as a board member of the UPF-Centre for Animal Ethics. In addition, they contribute to the COMPASS research project as a project manager. Their areas of research include critical animal studies, interspecies ethics, interest groups and the representation of animals in the media.
Recent critical research on interest groups (IGs) related to industries exploiting animals has shown that vested interests shape discourses, manipulate knowledge, manufacture consent, contribute to inaction and enact a lobbying practice labelled as “lobbying against compassion”. This study explores the communicative practices of Spanish IGs in the animal-based entertainment industry, including zoos, aquariums, and theme parks: AIZA (Iberian Association of Zoos and Aquariums), AICAS (Iberian Association of Wild Animal Keepers), Federación Fauna, Fundación Parques Reunidos and Loro Parque Fundación. Critical Discourse Analysis was conducted on the samples, together with a template that distinguished between three discourse levels: the representation and actions ascribed to the exploited nonhumans, the exploiting industries, and the consumers. The study focuses on the ethical implications of IGs’ persuasive messages and how they affect the public’s compassionate responses toward nonhumans. The results indicate that the IGs instrumentalize public compassion to continue business as usual, despite the harms the industry produces to nonhuman animals. The study highlights the common strategies of the IGs, which include presenting themselves as protectors of nonhumans and their well-being, and the industries’ workers as highly professional, knowledgeable, and scientifically backed. The IGs also present nonhumans as part of a genetic Noah’s Ark for a better future, where ecological interests of species protection are prioritized over the interests of captive individuals. While nonhumans are portrayed as benefiting from the institutions’ “care” and “animal welfare”, they are also presented as tools for education and entertainment, catering to human-centered interests. The study contributes to the critical animal studies literature by highlighting the need for ethical communicative practices that incorporate compassion and avoid condoning animal suffering. It also addresses the importance of deconstructing rhetoric like the appeal to common sense and traditions to expose the vested interests behind the discourse of the animal-based entertainment industry.
Dr Richard Twine is Reader in Sociology and Co-Director of the Centre for Human Animal Studies (CfHAS) at Edge Hill University, UK. He is the author of Animals as Biotechnology – Ethics, Sustainability and Critical Animal Studies (Routledge, 2010) and co-editor of The Rise of Critical Animal Studies – From the Margins to the Centre (Routledge, 2014). His next book, forthcoming with Sydney University Press, focuses on The Climate Crisis and human/animal relations. His website is http://www.richardtwine.com.
This paper revisits the author’s work on applying practice theory to vegan transition (2017; 2018) and to conceptualisations of the animal-industrial complex (2023). Tradition can be defined as ‘the solidification and stabilisation of practice’, with practice-change often a combination of both loyalty to, and transgression of, pre-existing elements of those practices which it seeks to replace, including their meanings, materialities, and competences (Shove et al. 2012). Similarly, ‘animal advocacy’ can be defined as the practice of embedding and diffusing transformed practices. This paper addresses pertinent issues in practice theory – power, scale, and the relationship between practice theory and social movement theory, which the author argues are important for both improving understandings of the animal-industrial complex and achieving lived transformations in human-animal relations.
Claire Parkinson, Ph.D. is Professor of Culture, Communication and Screen Studies and co-director of the Centre for Human Animal Studies at Edge Hill University. Her publications include the books Beyond Human: From animality to transhumanism; Popular Media and Animals; Animals, Anthropomorphism and Mediated Encounters; and, the forthcoming volume Animal Activism On And Off Screen. Her recent research has included leading two AHRC-funded projects on multispecies storytelling and a funded project on public perceptions of dangerous dogs.
Within animal rights outreach there is a tradition of using documentary-style footage to address human audiences with the realities experienced by non-human animals who are exploited and killed as a result of the animal industrial complex. The efficacy of such advocacy approaches is however contested across various studies. In this paper, I consider alternative communication strategies and the value of advocacy fictions, humour, and anthropomorphism, using the film Okja (2017) as a case study. The paper offers an analysis of the representations of animal rights activism in, and public and critical responses to, Okja. It places Okja in the context of South Korean film director Bong Joon-ho’s wider body of work and discusses the relationship between the film’s critique of corporate capitalism and pro-vegan message. It then examines Okja’s narrative of resistance identifying how Bong’s signature genre-blending merges fantasy and caper heist conventions with depictions of contemporary realities to align the viewer with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) position. I identify narrative devices which are used to encourage audiences to identify with the activists and argue that whilst there has been a focus on documentaries as an important mechanism to reach large audiences with animal advocacy messages, fiction films have an equally important role to play. To explore aspects of the film’s public reception, I examine parents’ and children’s responses to the film to argue that what I term, ‘advocacy fiction’, is a useful means by which children and young people can engage with the complex realities of the animal industrial complex and resistance to its practices. I conclude with an evaluation of the efficacy of anthropomorphism and comedy as narrative choices in advocacy fictions.
Daniel Breeze, MPhil (Cambridge), BA (Loughborough) is a Ph.D. student of International Relations, Politics and History at Loughborough University in the UK. His thesis seeks to rediscover animals in the history of vegetarianism through an exploration of vegetarians in the late-Victorian and Edwardian periods as well as their interactions with nonhuman animals. As a historian, he is interested in the interdisciplinary use of ethology and creative research approaches such as the archive of the feet.
This paper outlines how I am rediscovering the status of animals within histories of vegetarianism. Animals are largely absent from existing histories of vegetarianism and work in historical animal studies has focused on animal slaughter and ‘eating animals’, but I propose here that there is an animal history within the history of vegetarianism as well. In the archives we can find writings by vegetarians and about vegetarians, which suggest that their interactions with animals affected their intellectual views. In the first part of this paper, I will investigate how existing scholarship has challenged the traditional, human-centred idea of agency as intentional, rational, and premeditated. Following this, it will be shown how we can use the concept of ‘assembled agencies’ to bring animals into intellectual conversations. In the second part, I will then explore some examples of how late-Victorian and Edwardian vegetarians assembled their agencies with nonhuman animals when they took certain ideological positions and produced certain ideas. Finally, with reference to contemporary scientific studies, I will ask how the concept of assembled agencies might affect current discussions about companion animals and zoos.
Paul Chen is a master’s student in Asian Studies at Stockholm University, Sweden. Among his academic interests are the political potential of indigenous foodways as well as modern and contemporary public discourse on animal-based diet in East Asia. Currently he also works in journalism, focusing on sustainability and the European food system. In addition to that, Paul is an ecologist artist and in 2022 he co-hosted a public art project on local foodways at Times Museum, China.
On Vegetarian Food (素食說略,1926) is a collection of northern Chinese plant-based recipes written by late imperial intellectual Baochen Xue. The book advocates for a vegan diet based on ethical care for nonhuman animals with a strategy of cooking vegan food deliciously. Existing scholarship tends to either associate the origin of modern Chinese vegetarianism with Western vegetarian movements, or emphasize local vegetarianism’s attachment to pre-modern Buddhism. Such binary picture of history is also shared by anti-vegan public discourse in contemporary China. In response, this study presents the forgotten Chinese cookbook as a case study that offers an alternative perspective on modern Chinese vegetarianism. On Vegetarian Food’s local cultural roots and consciously secular ontology distinguish it from its contemporaries – it is not a by-product of religious doctrines, nor is it appropriated as part of a human-centric nation-building project, nor is it a late-comer who follows in the footsteps of Western pioneers. As a text grounded on local cultural traditions, On Vegetarian Food enables postcolonial critical animal studies to develop theory and practice outside of singular Western narration. Moreover, the cookbook’s emphasis on deliciously plant-based cooking also provides valuable insights into advocacy strategies for today’s animal rights movement.
Ronnie is probably best known for being one of the founders of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and for having spent about 9 years in prison for ALF activities. In more recent years though, he has turned his attention to vegan outreach and frequently speaks of the importance of vegan education, and of local vegan activist groups, for the achievement of animal liberation.
Ronnie will explain how the vast majority of humans are born into a culture that unthinkingly believes that members of the human species are somehow superior to other sentient animals, and how this supremacist attitude, also known as speciesism, is the fundamental cause of the oppression of other animals by humans.
He will talk of how vegan activism at a local level can challenge human supremacism and will give practical examples of how local vegan outreach groups can go about doing this.
Karl Hein is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at Tallinn University where his research is centred around the history of the Estonian animal welfare movement before the Second World War. Specifically, he is focusing on the interwar period. Before embarking on his doctoral studies, Karl obtained a master’s degree in theology and religious education as well as a bachelor’s degree in history. Alongside his studies, he also works as a history teacher in the small seaside town of Haapsalu.
I am researching the history of the Estonian animal welfare movement. The starting point of my research is 1869, when the Tallinn Society of Animal Protection was founded, and the ending point is in the Second World War, when Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union, so the scope of my research is around 70 years. So far my research has mainly focused on the history of the animal welfare movement during the interwar period (1918-1940).
During the interwar period the Estonian animal welfare movement was quite active. There were around 22 animal welfare organizations in Estonia with approximately 10 000 members. Traditions, history and heritage were very important for the movement. The members of the movement celebrated the anniversaries of the associations and wrote articles about the historical development of the movement. They used a variety of insignia – flags, badges, medals etc. – which became the symbols of the movement. One of the most important unifying symbols was the “Green Cross”, which figured on the flags and logos of the associations. Also they organized annual celebrations – one of the most important annual events was the celebration of the World Animal Day on the 4th of October, which was celebrated from 1928 until 1940, when the movement came to an end.
In my talk I will be giving a short overview about the traditions Estonian animal welfare movement in the interwar period. I will be looking at how the traditions developed and changed throughout the ages and will ask the question – are there any traditions that should be adopted by the contemporary animal movement?
Marlies Bockstal obtained her Master of Science in Sociology at the University of Ghent in Belgium in 2019. In 2022, she started her Ph.D. in Human-Animal Studies at the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies at the University of Canterbury. Her Ph.D. project focuses on purebred dog breeding practices in Aotearoa New Zealand. By drawing on several intersectional frameworks, her research critically examines the ‘responsible breeding’ discourse using a species-inclusive sensory ethnographic methodology.
The practice of selectively breeding dogs according to breed standards is a tradition that has its roots in the 19th Century Victorian Era in Great Britain. This is when the notion of ‘breed’ became the main way of thinking about and categorising dogs and became institutionalised by the Kennel Club in official breed standards. In recent years, however, purebred dog breeding has come under increasing criticism. Primary concerns include the widespread health and welfare problems related to the extensive selective breeding and overpopulation in animal shelters. In response to this critique and the connected “adopt, don’t shop” movement, Kennel Clubs and their breeders have introduced a discourse of ‘responsible breeding’. As part of this discourse, Kennel Clubs have made efforts to ‘save the breeds’, by encouraging their registered breeders to selectively breed away from breed-related inherited diseases. Yet such a discourse continues to normalise dogs being bred for human purposes, according to human-made breed standards that still prioritise aesthetics while undermining the dogs’ health, well-being, and autonomy.
In this PhD research project, I aim to critically investigate this ‘responsible breeding’ discourse in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand. Drawing from key components of intersectional (eco)feminist and critical animal studies approaches, I examine how purebred dog breeders attempt to legitimise their breeding practices through a discourse of ‘responsible breeding’ and how implicit logics of domination, domestication, and capitalism operate simultaneously with logics of love and care within the interspecies relations in the context of these ‘responsible breeding’ practices. Through my study, I aim to reveal and challenge the gender-and species-based oppression and exploitation within all purebred dog breeding practices, even the ones that are claimed to be ‘ethical’ through a ‘responsible breeding’ discourse.
María Ruiz Carreras
María Ruiz Carreras holds a Ph.D. in Communication from Pompeu Fabra University (Spain), a Master’s in Communication from Rey Juan Carlos University (Spain), a Master’s in Translation from Menéndez Pelayo International University (Spain). She previously graduated in Advertising and Public Relations (San Jorge University, Spain, and Haute École Louvain en Hainaut, Belgium) and in Graphic Design (Escuela Superior de Diseño de Aragón, Spain). She is currently a lecturer and researcher at the Strategic Communication Department and the Media and Communication Department at Lund University (Sweden) and a member of the Lund University Critical Animal Studies Network. Her research encompasses strategic communication, political economy, critical animal studies, and public affairs.
The general objective of this paper, written after the completion of this research as a P.h.D. dissertation, was to study the discourse of the European Dairy Industry (EDI) lobbyists from a non speciesist perspective. To achieve this, the EDI was first examined as an economic and influential actor, through a political economy analysis, in order to identify the main companies and pressure groups, their links and their numbers. Then the discourse that the interest groups construct with respect to 1) the animals that the industry exploits and 2) to the nutritional recommendations that end up in the dietary guidelines was analysed through documentary analysis and critical discourse analysis. Third, interviews with experts and members of the industry and the interest groups were carried as well, to support and guide the discourse analysis.
It was concluded that the dairy industry constitutes an economic and corporate framework that dedicates a great effort to exert influence on food recommendations. Its interest groups have formed and sustain coalitions and networks with interrelations and investments in lobbying that are much more complex and abundant that the ones from interest groups doing advocacy for the animals. The critical discourse analysis shows, amongst other things, that the EDI interest groups have adapted their narrative to the current values of concern for science, health and even animal welfare, while contradicting them.
Tim Reysoo has studied Philosophy (Research Master) and International Development Studies (MA) at the University of Amsterdam. Reysoo argues for extending the notion of social privilege to the human species as a whole to make sense of the enormous power differential between humans and animals in society. He has extensive experience running animal rights campaigns, doing vegan street outreach, and holding public lectures on the issue of animal oppression. Reysoo is currently applying for Ph.D. positions with the aim of developing a multi-species theory of oppression and privilege.
This paper discusses and critiques Gloria Wekker’s work White Innocence: The Paradoxes of 400 years of colonialism. The notion of white innocence that Wekker distils from the social privilege of race or whiteness, is used to shed light on yet another social group category that tends to be hidden for most part, namely species. The reason for doing so is that similar to how white privilege and male privilege expose the unfair and exploitative relations that result from oppressive systems such as racism and sexism, human privilege can expose the mechanisms (epistemic, institutional, psychological, etc.) that ensure successful reproduction of animal oppression. Getting a clear picture of how species privilege operates can help make us more privilege literate (Joy, 2020), with regard to our unexamined privilege we enjoy in virtue of belonging to the socially constructed human group. In order to realize this, the paper is structured as follows.
The first part will discuss and critique the work of Wekker, and use her analysis of white privilege and white innocence to introduce the concepts of species privilege and human innocence. The second part looks at the history of animal oppression, how it evolved, and how it is intertwined with inter-human violence, oppression and warfare. It also discusses instances of animal rights advocacy in human history in order to argue that human literacy regarding their species privilege did exist long before the modern day movement of animal rights. This not only confirms that human privilege and animal oppression are in fact ancient, but it also refutes the Eurocentric connotations veganism (or animal rights) falsely evoke. The third part will focus on a phenomenon that is necessarily associated with oppression, namely, resistance. When animals resist their enslavement and oppression they themselves challenge the socially constructed position of unexamined human privilege. The fourth part examines the types of epistemic violence species privilege entails and requires. Every oppressive system and its associated social privilege needs to convincingly distort people’s perception in order to successfully reproduce the imbalanced, unfair and hierarchical social relationships between individuals and groups. The last part aims to counteract these epistemic distortions with a more truthful and accurate picture of reality. Discussing animal justice and animal language will therefore hopefully educate and empower readers with the conceptual tools to challenge and replace the myths that prevent people from examining and questioning their human privilege and speciesist traditions.
Mark Dunick has a Ph.D. in History from Victoria University of Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand, and received a 2023 EARTH Fellowship from the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities. He is currently based at the Centre for Environment, Heritage and Policy (CEHP) at the University of Stirling.
This paper will explore the history of the animal liberation movement in Aotearoa New Zealand and how the movement began as a reaction against the British settler colonial attitudes towards animals but has often been reluctant to transform itself into a truly radical challenge to the dominant culture.
Early animal rights and vegetarian groups in colonial New Zealand were closely connected with similar groups in Britain. Members included feminists, socialists and pacifists who rejected mainstream New Zealand values, but were influenced by British radical politics and had very little connection with other cultures including Māori culture. From the late 1970s two national animal protection groups emerged from this milieu and dominated the movement for the next three decades. The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS) began in 1978 and was an unusual alliance between a British born conservative leader who favoured conspiracy theories, and a youthful anarcho-punk scene. By the early 1990s, Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE) became the most prominent animal rights group in New Zealand, and a new generation of campaigners began organising against intensive farming of pigs and chickens.
In the twenty-first century, undercover investigators achieved widespread news coverage of cruelty in the dairy industry and campaigners began directly attacking the New Zealand ‘clean and green’
myths of nationhood. Coalitions of animal rights activists and local communities have emerged to oppose the construction of new factory farms and the movement is recruiting beyond the usual activist subcultures. Support for animal rights and veganism is growing, but as it grows the movement is facing a choice. Will it merge into the dominant culture and became ‘mainstream’, or will it retain its radical, subversive analysis?
S.A. Bachman & Neda Moridpour (LOUDER THAN WORDS (LTW))
LOUDER THAN WORDS (LTW) is a cross-cultural, intergenerational art collective that addresses animal liberation, sexual assault, domestic violence, LGBTQ+ equality and prison abolition. They enlist art in the service of public address and social action while examining the ways capitalism, racism and misogyny endanger women, the disenfranchised, and non-human animals. LTW employs multifarious aesthetic strategies in an effort to ignite civic dialogue, unravel obstacles, reorder entrenched cultural gridlock and generate languages of critique and possibility.
As the right to protest in the U.S. continues to be threatened, this presentation explores arts’ potential to influence, inspire, condemn, unite, create resistance, and speak out for non-human animals.
Street graphics date back to Roman Times: displays of political graphics have been cited in the graffiti of Pompeii where political slogans and images were carved and painted on city walls. In the Renaissance, placards were hung on public statues to create civic dialogue in public space. Martin Luther’s Reformation Movement was spread via leaflets illustrated with woodcuts by German artists. We can trace the roots of graphic agitation from these broadsheets that functioned as manifestos in the Reformation’s fight against the Catholic Church through the lampooning of 19th century political cartoonists to ACT UP (AIDS coalition to Unleash Power)/Gran Fury and Sue Coe.
In today’s world, artists protest in a multitude of ways. They organize street interventions, use lens-based practices to document, exhibit in museums, and wheat-paste posters in urban spaces, among other strategies. The point of departure for this presentation will be ACT UP because it is a unique example of artists making a concrete impact upon public opinion and policy within a relatively short time.
Next, we will examine the current landscape of artists addressing animal liberation with a focus on the questions: How can we invent new iconography, bypassing the redundant and cliched tropes still over-utilized? How much can we expect from a work of art? How can artists effectively collaborate with activists and organizations to amplify their mission? How can artists become bridges between activists devoted to injustices such as carceral politics, racism, environmental justice, and animal liberation? Why was ACT UP so effective? What can we learn from ACT UP’s tactics in order to prompt the political imagination in the service of animal liberation?
Laura Saarenmaa is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Media Studies of the University of Turku in Finland. She has published extensively on the historic interconnections of popular media and politics. In her ongoing research she explores culture programming in Finnish television in the 1970s and 1980s. Laura Saarenmaa is the co-editor of the book Pornification: Sex and Sexuality in Media Culture (Berg 2007) as well as two edited volumes in Finnish.
As it has been shown in earlier studies, in the Nordic countries the beginning of the age of extensive meat eating, followed by the growth of meat industries and the broadening selection of convenience meat products, can be dated back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In this presentation, I am introducing a framework for media historical analysis on the role of television advertising in cultivating Finnish people in purchasing meat and preparing meat courses for everyday food in the early 1980s onwards. The focus of attention is in the long-term collaboration between the commercial television channel MTV and the leading retailing conglomerate Kesko in producing tv-advertisements that informed and educated Finnish television audiences in meat cooking, and creating a decades long tradition of thinking meat courses as delicious, affordable, and practical to cook. The discourse was personified in the luscious habitus of Väiski, professional “meat instructor” of Kesko, who performed in the tv-advertisements dressed in an apron and a white cap. In my interpretation, it is the warm memory of Väiski that, in its part, explains the affective relation to meat eating tradition in Finland, particularly for generations born in the late 1940s. 1950s and 1960s.
Vesna Liponik is a poet and an activist. Her first poetry collection /roko razje/ (/eats away the hand/) was published in 2019 by Škuc-Lambda. In her activism she collaborates with For the animals!, society for assertion of animal rights. She works as a young research fellow at the Institute of Philosophy of the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU) and is a Ph.D. student at the Postgraduate School of the same institution.
Traditional stylistics and tropology is premised upon the exclusion of animal, on the exclusion of certain bodies, marked as animal or animal-like. This exclusion, animals being marked as ontologically different and at the bottom of the graduated scheme or vertical ontology, with the figure of the white Western heterosexual middle-class man on the apex, is what enables an intelligibility of figural translation. Animal’s exclusion from the fields of aesthetics, also literary theory, that I will especially focus on, enables and is closely tight to the specific manner of their inclusion, with animal’s bodies perceived and widely used as tools and materials for production of tropes. Animals thus represent, with John Berger, a first metaphor. This position also being the reason for their further implementation as a figurative base in describing other oppressions.
The most recent developments in the field of decolonial theory and critical race studies, focusing on the question of human-animal relations, have shown that we must not overlook the role of raciality, the role of enslavement and coloniality in forming the discourse on animals. Key here is the connection between material and discursive, because only when we rhetorically transform living beings into objects and things can we dispose of them as inanimate objects and things. What is common between forms of violence by humans against humans and humans against animals, with Dinesh J. Wadiwel, concerns above all shared techniques and logics of violent management of life and death, including tropology.
If we are to exit this tradition, we must deploy the techniques and logics, that radically trouble the graduated ontological premises of traditional stylistics and tropology. Among them certainly being veganism, rethought as a left decolonial practice, regarding not only fields of food, clothing, cosmetics and similar, but also tropology and aesthetics.
Brett Mills is a member of the Centre for Human-Animal Studies at Edge Hill University, UK, and an Honorary Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of East Anglia, UK. His most recent book is Animals on Television: The Cultural Making of the Non-Human (Palgrave, 2017). He belongs to the AHRC-funded project teams Multispecies Storytelling: More-Than-Human Narratives About Landscape (2019-22) and Multisensory Multispecies Storytelling to Engage Disadvantaged Groups in Changing Landscapes (2020-22), and as part of the CULIVIAN research group at the University of Valencia, Spain, to the research project Representations of Masculinities in Animal Advocacy Documentaries in English (2000-2021).
Animals have been a part of television’s offerings since its inception. In its first week of broadcasting in November 1936 the BBC’s output included Alsatians (“A Display by Champion Alsatians from the Metropolitan and Essex Canine Society’s Show”), Silver Fox Breeding (“Four foxes will be exhibited by a representative of the Silver Fox Breeders’ Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”), and The Zoo Today (“Some animals with their keepers”). This is unsurprising given television’s ability to bring the exotic into the living room, which meant predictions of what would be successful on the fledgling medium suggested that material “featuring animals, [will] undoubtedly will find a large place in the BBC’s new television programmes”.
Yet at the medium’s inception no-one was quite sure what would make ‘good’ television: the technology was untested, audiences were unknown, and television’s grammar and conventions were yet to be formulated. That animals were turned to in order to attract audiences to the new medium places television in a long tradition of the anthropocentric employment of the non-human for purposes of pleasure. But new representational traditions needed to be invented here, and the analysis of this early period of television enable delineation of the processes by which traditions – now normalised – came into being.
This paper therefore will analyse the BBC’s early output and the purposes to which animals were put during this period. This is partly to write animals back into this history, which they are traditionally excluded from. But it is also to indicate the processes by which that which comes to be seen as ‘tradition’ has definable and particular roots, dependent on the congruence of human-centred factors.
Estela Díaz is a lecturer and researcher at Universidad Pontificia Comillas, an activist for human and animal rights, NGO advisor, and humane educator. Estela holds a Ph.D. in Economics and Business Administration (Universidad Pontificia Comillas), a master’s in Sustainability and CSR (UNED and UJI), and in Research in Economics and Business Administration (Universidad Pontificia Comillas), and a degree in Law (University of Granada). Her research focuses on critical animal studies, ethical and transformative consumption, gender, and sustainable transitions. She has presented papers and published in journals such as Human Ecology Review, Psychology & Marketing, Macromarketing, Sustainability, Anthrozoös, and Society & Animals.
Animal experimentation has undoubtedly been one of the main concerns of the animal advocacy movement since its origins, based on antispeciesist and humanitarian values: nonhuman animals used in research are sentient beings, capable of experiencing pain and pleasure, positive and negative mental states (Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness 2012). Therefore, the interest of nonhuman animals in not being subjected to experimentation must be considered. However, the animal advocacy movement is not uniform and lacks agreement on the best strategies to reduce or avoid animal suffering in general, and, especially, in animal experimentation, a practice whose proponents claim has been crucial to scientific and medical progress. This makes the issue of animal experimentation a sensitive and controversial topic, even among vegans, since the beginning (Newton, 2013).
In this article, we present the most relevant results of a quantitative study that examines how the VEG community approached, experienced, and made decisions regarding Covid-19 (e.g., the use of masks, vaccination doses received, acceptance of mandatory vaccination, and endorsement of the green passport) and the factors explaining such attitudes and behaviors. Drawing on Díaz (2017) the total sample of 936 people, from 21 countries, was divided into two groups for comparison: vegans and non-vegans. Our study aims to contribute to the question of “Transformation in the Movement” by revealing the different responses given by the VEG community to a global crisis whose management implied the adoption of measures harmful to animals, especially the global vaccination campaign (a resource based on animal experimentation, with no vegan option available) as the main –almost the only – tool to address it. In doing so, we hope to inspire critical reflection and dialogue on some of the challenges currently affecting our movement.
Katja M. Guenther
Katja M. Guenther is Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Her areas of expertise span feminist and women’s activism, critical and feminist animal studies, feminist state theory, social inequalities (race, class, gender, and disability), and qualitative methods, especially ethnography. She is the author of two books published by Stanford University Press: The Lives and Deaths of Shelter Animals (2020) and Making Their Place: Feminism After Socialism in Eastern Germany (2010), as well as numerous journal articles and contributions to edited volumes.
In February, 2012, a puma (aka mountain lion, cougar, or panther) was discovered to be living in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, an urban park bounded by freeways and densely-populated neighborhoods. Identified by wildlife management officials as P-22, this puma became a celebrity in Los Angeles, represented as an animal who survived and thrived in an environment humans had made inhospitable to members of his species. His remarkable presence in the park, which lasted until his death in December, 2023, propelled the plight of California pumas into the limelight, and helped transform dominant local narratives about human-puma relations. In 2014, P-22 became the poster cat for a fundraising drive to support the construction of what will become possibly the largest and most complex wildlife crossing built in the United States. A multiracial coalition of actors, including billionaire white philanthropists and low-income Black, Indigenous, and Latino/a/x Angelenos, advocates for puma protection in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, contributing to a public understanding of pumas as indigenous border-crossers who negotiate and defy human incursion.
In this presentation, I share initial findings about how and why pumas, most especially the celebrity mountain lion P-22, have become charismatic megafauna in whom public and private agencies have invested hundreds of million dollars for conservation. I pay particular attention to how the presence of pumas, once seen as a threat to human activity in the Los Angeles region, now helps create community and place in Los Angeles in ways that reflect and sometimes transform human constructions of race and ethnicity, indigeneity, femininity and masculinity, animality, and reproduction.
Daina Pupkevičiūtė is a Ph.D. student of ethnology at the University of Tartu, an educator, sound and performance artist and art curator. Her research focuses on relationships in the context of the climate crisis and the integration of artistic and ethnographic research methods. Her artistic interest at present lies within aural and bodily perceptions of and responses to disaster, in loss and rupture, relationships among various beings, states of being and those of becoming.
Care has been, in the last decade, adressed ever more widely by researchers working in the field of environmental and more-than-human anthropology. In this paper I will draw on my recent fieldwork to address caring practices as divisive in a mountain setting in the French Maritime Alps. I will discuss how caring is inseparable from politics and policies, how and who is deemed as worthy of care and for what reasons. I will talk about shepherds and sheep, shepherds and wolves as well as what discourses circulate about.
Jonna Håkansson is a Ph.D. Student at the Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies at University of Gothenburg, Sweden, focusing on Critical Animal Pedagogy, and the co-founder of University of Gothenburg’s Network for Critical Animal Studies in the Anthropocene (GU-CAS). They have a background in animal rights as well as Feminist Studies with a MA degree in Gender Studies, and a special focus on CAS.
Malin Gustafsson has been an animal rights activist since the beginning of the 2000s and is currently working for the Swedish organisation Djurrättsalliansen (The Animal Rights Alliance). The organisation’s work, among other things, consists of documenting, investigating and exposing Swedish animal industries. She has also been working as a journalist and is mainly interested in investigative journalism.
This paper presentation centers around a teaching module in Critical Animal Pedagogies (CAP) in a civics course in upper secondary school, in which past and current traditions, practices and assumptions regarding nonhuman animals and human-animal relations get intertwined with each other and the perspective of CAS impacting the imagination of possible utopias or dystopias in which human and nonhuman animals live (and die) differently.
The presentation builds upon data from a critical action research project in which scholars, activists, students, and teachers collaborate during workshops to explore and develop CAP to be introduced in upper secondary schools in, what is currently referred to as, Sweden. Upon introducing CAP, similar arguments and taken for granted assumptions regarding nonhuman animals and human-animal relations, often with reference to tradition, constantly arose creating a legitimization and stabilization of animal exploitation. Hence, five students, participating in workshops, suggested to center a lesson around such assumptions, building upon three prior lessons during which CAS, animal rights and information on animal exploitation were introduced to the students in collaboration between an activist-scholar and an activist. As follows the work of animal rights organizations entered the school and became part of the students’ education, for example by footage from inside of Swedish animal industries being shown during lessons.
Data from the project shows how the steady repetition of asymmetric human-animal relations along with the monotone repetition of legitimizing violence towards nonhuman others turn animal exploitation into the mundane. However, it also contains moments in which this repetition is interrupted – opening for thinking human-animal relations anew. This presentation draws on practical experiences of working with CAP in upper secondary school, and by centering some specific moments, we explore which human-animal relations are enabled or disabled and what transformation seem possible in different moments upon the introduction of CAP.
Gelareh Salehi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Marketing Department at Comillas Pontifical University, holding bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics and marketing. Her research investigates consumer perceptions, reactions, and behaviours toward sustainable and ethical lifestyles, focusing on vegetarianism/veganism. Gelareh has collaborated with different universities on veganism studies and presented her work at several academic conferences worldwide. Her contributions have been published in related advocacy associations such as The Vegan Society (UK) and Faunalytics.
Background: Animal advocacy, particularly the more radical positions of veganism and animal rights activism, initially developed in progressive politics and adopted anti-capitalism perspectives. However, in recent times, the popularity of veganism among the public has been driven more by health, ecological transformation, and trendy lifestyle concerns than by moral, political, or spiritual reasons. This paper, part of a larger project on VEG literature, examines the approach that veganism and vegetarianism have taken in the quantitative studies published to date.
Methods: Following PRISMA guidelines, we conducted a systematic literature review of 307 quantitative studies published in social and behavioral sciences from 1987 to 2022. During data extraction and coding, we identified three dominant frames under which to encompass the studies: (1) Food (F), related to the choice of specific products; (2) Diet (D), referring to the adoption of dietary practices; and (3) Philosophy of life (P), related to a moral positioning and a social movement. Notably, these frames appear in the studies separately and in combination.
Results: We observed that 56% of studies frame VEG as Diet (D), 24% as Food (F), and only 6% as Philosophy of life (P). Regarding the combination of frames, 6% of the studies also understand VEG as Diet and Food (DF) as well as Diet and Philosophy of life (DP). The understanding of VEG as Diet (D) has increased over the years, with a peak in 2021 (28 studies). In 2022, there is a slight decrease in the VEG as Diet (D) frame and an increase in the Food frame (35 studies).
Discussion: The result shows a transformation in framing VEG, indicating that the rationale for healthy and sustainable eating in VEG rather than animal rights. Taken together, our results add evidence to a recent concern in the literature about the depoliticization of VEG (especially veganism) in society that is fading from its antagonistic origins.
Vivek Mukherjee has been Assistant Professor of Law at NALSAR since 2017, and also coordinates their Animal Law Center. Previously, he was teaching at the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies. His interests include Animal Law, International Law, and Environmental Law.
Current research projects: Legal Personhood of Elephants in India with Nonhuman Rights Project, USA; Illegal Wildlife Trade and Zoonotic Diseases with Harvard Animal Law and Policy Program; three funded research projects on Farm Animal Protection with Humane Society United States; book project with Prof. Faizan Mustafa on Decisional Privacy and Freedom of Religion in India (Penguin Random House India).
Indian courts have become a site of a constant tussle between human tradition and other-than-human ‘rights’ since the Supreme Court of India decided the Jallikattu matter in 2014. In the celebrated judgment of AWBI v. Nagaraja, which ostensibly recognized the fundamental right to life of bulls who were cruelly forced to participate in the racing sport of Jallikattu, the Supreme Court prohibited the cultural activity of bull racing, reading a directive principle of state policy that prescribes the state to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country as the magna carta of animal rights in the country. Reacting to the unfavourable judgment which bans the cultural activity of Jallikattu, the state of Tamil Nadu decided to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA) in the state with the effect of lifting the ban in favour of ‘regulating’ the cultural practice. This was done by the State of Tamil Nadu by going against the opinion of the Animal Welfare Board of India and the Central Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, raising significant federalism questions. The dispute has reached the Supreme Court of India again, and the court is required to decide on the validity of the amendment of PCA by the Tamil Nadu government. I argue that (a) without the recognition of constitutional right of animals through an amendment in the Indian constitution, it is unfair to pitch a strong fundamental constitutional human right to culture against a weak right enjoyed by animals recognized by the court using tools of interpretation; and (b) activists must resist approaching courts for disputes involving a conflict between human and other-than-human subjects as it leads to unnecessary magnification of a cultural practice that was originally practised in a small district of Tamil Nadu.
Cansu Özge Özmen
Cansu Özge Özmen received her BA in American Culture and Literature from Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, her MA degree in American Studies from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and her Ph.D. from the Intercultural Humanities department at Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany, in 2010. She currently works as an Associate Professor at the Department of English and Literature at Tekirdağ Namık Kemal University, Turkey.
Eid Qurban or the Feast of Sacrifice is one of the two major religious holidays, celebrated for four days annually in Islamic countries. The dates vary every year since there is an eleven-day difference between the Islamic calendar and the Gregorian calendar. The first and the second days traditionally are reserved for the sacrifice (slaughter) of animals such as cows, sheep, and goats, later on, to be distributed to the economically disadvantaged members of the community. In 2021, 3.700.000 animals were sold to be slaughtered for the Feast of Sacrifice. This is around one-seventh of all the cows, sheep, and goats slaughtered in the country in the same year. There are certain criteria about the condition of the animal to be slaughtered as advised by Islamic scholars but there is no supervision in the animal markets to make sure those conditions are met. Therefore, it is common to witness pregnant, very young, or sick animals being sold for slaughter. Slaughter of animals for the Feast of Sacrifice has long been criticized in Turkey by vegans and non-vegans alike on the grounds of being a primitive practice and they have offered alternative ways to help those in need. Few religious scholars have also supported these criticisms by interpreting Koran differently. Angels Farm Sanctuary, the first farm animal sanctuary in Turkey has initiated an alternative to the slaughter of animals during the Feast of Sacrifice. Volunteers from the sanctuary go to animal markets and by using donations from the community, purchase animals who are pregnant, sick, or very young and bring them to the sanctuary to live out their lives in peace. This paper will focus on the various interpretations of the word “kurban” (sacrifice) and introduce the sanctuary’s alternative method of celebrating the feast through rescue instead of slaughter.
Julia Castellano is a psychologist and Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication at UPF (Pompeu Fabra University), and is associated with the research group CritiCC and the Center for Animal Ethics.
The current Western food system represents a threat to the planet and the various human and non-human animal communities that inhabit it, with animal-based foods being the most problematic. Nevertheless, different barriers prevent most people from transitioning to veganism, with one of the most important being the taste of animal products. Plant-Based Alternative Foods (PAF) — vegan products that seek to imitate the taste and texture of animal products — have emerged with the intention of spreading veganism and providing a unique opportunity to overcome the “taste” barrier that is so difficult to approach from other positions.
Exploring the utopian discourses and practices present in the communication strategies of plant-based alternative products (PBAF) can be relevant to elucidate how these brands can lead real change for animals. Through Bossy’s definition of utopia, I propose a tool for analyzing the rejection of the existing society and the idea that another society is possible and desirable that these brands promote, emphasizing the importance of identifying the values, ideals, and hopes they promote to achieve potential change.
Finally, I discuss the role of pioneers in the plant-based alternative products industry and how these brands can lead change through brand activism. I argue that working with the concept of utopia allows for a more emancipatory approach and identification of common routes between consumers, activists, researchers, and brands.
Farištamo Eller is an animal rights activist and conservationist. She is the communications manager of the Estonian animal advocacy organisation Loomus and in her spare time she is involved in nature conservation more broadly.
Lampreys, a popular delicacy in Northeast Estonia, are jawless fish from the Cyclostomi group. They are prepared alive, slowly killing them with salt. This tradition has arised from a practical reasoning — otherwise they would not be edible for humans. This goes against §10.(2) in the Animal Protection Act of Estonia which states that “In the event of permitted slaughter and killing of an animal, a method for slaughter and killing that causes the animal the least possible amount of physical and mental suffering must be chosen.” Is it time to end this cruel tradition, to stop salting lampreys alive and therefore also stop eating them?
Emily is an academic activist who loves all things furry, scaly, feathered, and slimy, and advocates through her work that all beings receive empathy and compassion, no matter their species. Her Human-Animal Studies Ph.D., which is currently going through examination, is based at the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Emily’s research critiques the mainstream ‘possum-as-pest’ discourse in conservation education and considers how principles from compassionate conservation could help alleviate suffering and cruelty towards brushtail possums.
In Aotearoa New Zealand, the Australian brushtail possum (herein: possums) has been centred in a ‘propaganda campaign’, Predator Free 2050, which seeks to eradicate all rats, stoats, and possums by 2050. Possums, introduced from Australia in 1858, have been blamed for the drastic reduction in many native flora and fauna species. Their presence also threatens the nation’s lucrative beef and dairy industries, as possums are vectors of bovine tuberculosis. Subsequently, possums are targets of extensive hunting, trapping, and poisoning campaigns, which have fostered a dangerous culture of cruelty, desensitisation, and normalisation of violence towards the marsupials. For the Predator Free 2050 campaign to materialise, all New Zealanders need to support the goal of eradicating these ‘pests’. This has resulted in children being encouraged to participate in ‘conservation’ fundraising events where possum bodies are defiled and desecrated in an effort to unite communities to ‘protect’ valued native species and the environment. However, these attitudes are intimately tied to Pākehā (New Zealanders of European descent) understandings of their ‘belonging’ within the postcolonial environment.
Though this thesis is primarily concerned with possum advocacy, it also considers how current methods used for conservation have the potential to severely damage the growth and experience of empathy for its participants (particularly for children). Much is already known about the ‘mainstream’ attitudes towards possums as ‘pests’, but there is little acknowledgement of ‘alternative’ perspectives which disagree with these dominant views as they are often ostracised and silenced for sharing their beliefs.
This doctoral research was initially introduced at the 2021 EACAS conference; however, this more recent version summarises the outcome of this work and explores compassionate forms of conservation rebels against traditional anti-possum attitudes that can help evolve the nation in kinder, more inclusive ways.