Call for Papers
Beyond the Human: Feminism and the Animal Turn
February 9-10, University of Wollongong
In a 2006 interview, Carol Adams tells Tom Tyler why she refuses to wear a popular feminist button which asserts that ‘Feminism is the radical notion that women are human’. For Adams, a feminism that wants to establish women’s ‘humanness’, while upholding the boundary between humans and other animals, defeats what she calls the radical insight of ecofeminism that ‘all oppressions are interconnected’, and that ‘no one creature will be free until all are free – from abuse, degradation, exploitation, pollution and commercialization’ (Adams and Donovan 1995:3).
What might contemporary feminism offer to the animals whose lives are deemed to be outside of legal protections and ethical concerns? Feminist scholars and activists were an important part of the early animal protection movements, but has human exceptionalism touched the heart of a movement that had liberation from regimes of oppression and violence at its centre? As the suffering and untimely deaths of animals reach unprecedented levels how might feminism impact positively on their precarious (ignored and forgotten) lives?
Equally what does animal studies have to offer feminists? As our understanding of the rich terrain of the nonhuman expands to include the life of plants, objects and virtual entities, new ecologies of being are emerging that explode our traditional understandings of what it means to care, to communicate, to have a body. Could this re-imagination of forms of embodiment and relationship craft new conceptual tools for feminist work?
What are the risks of thinking beyond speciesism? Researchers in animal studies point to the way that that ethnocentricism, racism and gendered violence are underwritten by ideologies of human superiority to all that is nonhuman. Yet, some critics of posthumanist thinking are also concerned about throwing the baby of humanist protection out with the bathwater in our eagerness to go “post.” How are we to think beyond speciesism in such a way as to maintain and not eviscerate the space of citizenship and humanity that marginalized groups have fought to occupy?
The Feminist Research Network and the Material Ecologies Network at the University of Wollongong will host a symposium February 9-10 to explore intersections between feminism and animal studies.
Topics might include but are not limited to:
- The risks of analogy (e.g. drawing parallels between animal, indigenous and gendered oppression)
- Animal resistance and false consciousness
- Posthumanism and animal/feminist studies
- Ecofeminism and animal studies
- Intersectionality in academic/activist work on animal/gender oppressions
- Nonhuman bodies that matter
- Nonhuman animals in feminist thought
- An ethics of care
- Bodies by design – role of design and technology in shaping gendered/animal bodies
- Thinking beyond speciesism
Please submit a 500 word abstract via email to Dr. Nicola Evans, Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts, University of Wollongong
Deadline: December 14, 2015