Thinking Animals: Species, Power and the Politics of Care in the World

Thinking Animals: Species, Power and the Politics of Care in the World

Past Event: Friday, January 9, 2015

At Henry Art Gallery Auditorium — University of Washington


Animals occupy a paradoxical place in the world: they are everywhere, yet hidden. This course explores the histories, politics, and cultural dynamics of how humans see and do not see animals in the world.

Presented in partnership with the University of Washington’s Critical Animal Studies working group.

Bringing expertise from wildlife sciences, animal welfare, geography, anthropology, literature and political science, a distinguished set of speakers will explore human-animal connections in a range of global and historical contexts, including Renaissance France, contemporary Peru, and urban and rural spaces in the United States.

This series of lectures will be held at the Henry Art Gallery in conjunction with their upcoming exhibition by Ann Hamilton which will touch on themes of human and non-human animals. For more on Ann Hamilton and this exhibition click here.

Single tickets for each event may be purchased at the door for $20. The box office will open at 6:30 PM.

Speakers, Dates and Topics:

January 9: John Marzluff (School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, UW Seattle), “Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing our neighborhoods with wrens, robins, woodpeckers, and other wildlife”

Welcome to Subirdia presents a surprising discovery: the suburbs of many large cities support incredible biological diversity. Populations and communities of a great variety of birds, as well as other creatures, are adapting to the conditions of our increasingly developed world. In this fascinating and optimistic talk, John Marzluff reveals how our own actions affect the birds and animals who live in our cities and towns, and he provides ten specific strategies everyone can use to make human environments friendlier for our natural neighbors.

John Marzluff, Ph.D., is Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington. His research has been the focus of articles in the New York Times, National Geographic, Audubon, Boys Life, the Seattle Times, and National Wildlife. PBS’s NATURE featured his raven research in its production, “Ravens,” and his crow research in the film documentary, “A Murder of Crows.”

January 30: Wayne Pacelle (CEO of the Humane Society of the US), “Animal Protection in the 21st Century: Finding Clarity in Our Tangled, Contradictory Relationship with Animals”

Our treatment of animals is a challenging moral issue. A deep reservoir of empathy and a capacity to understand the vulnerability and pain of others motivates our concern for and emotional connection to many animals. Yet we also raise billions of them on factory farms, kill millions for their fur, among other impacts. We struggle with the boundary between cruelty and economic interest, between caprice and necessity, and between callous disregard and careful use. It’s within our power to reach for a higher standard, and to link our emerging higher values with the forces of the marketplace. We can and should marshal the creativity of the human mind to find better ways to live and to generate income without causing harm to animals. Ultimately, a conscious concern for animals is necessary for our moral progress and our economic success. A civil society must sync up its economy with its values and ideals. Animals are a test of this proposition, and how we treat them is one of the great challenges of our time.

Wayne Pacelle is president and Chief Executive Officer The Humane Society of the United States. As president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Wayne Pacelle leads the nation’s largest animal protection organization— one of the 100 largest charities in the U.S., according to Forbes Magazine. During his tenure, Pacelle has more than doubled the size of the organization, and its impact is felt throughout the United States and increasingly throughout the world. The HSUS is the largest provider of direct care services to animals, and it works to shape public and corporate policies in the realm of companion animals, farm animals, horses, wildlife, and animals used in testing and research. In the last 8 years, Pacelle and The HSUS have helped to pass more than 800 new state laws to help animals, and he’s personally led more than 25 successful ballot measures. Pacelle is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them. He received his B.A. in history and environmental studies from Yale University in 1987.

February 13: Kathryn Gillespie (Geography, UW Seattle), “The Cow with Ear Tag #1389: Species, Place and Power in U.S. Animal Agriculture”

What can be learned from sharing the stories of real, embodied animals in places of food production? What does a focus on the mundane features of animal agriculture teach us about humans’ relationships with other species? How do we negotiate and contest complex cross-species relationships of power and privilege in dominant social orders, like farming? This talk responds to these and other questions by exploring the lives of animals in the dairy industry in the Pacific Northwest. From the farm to the auction yard, I trace the ways in which cows used for dairy are intimately embedded in global structures of political economy and power. And in the context of this analysis and growing public concern about the treatment of animals in the food system, I suggest possibilities for reimagining how we care for and about the nonhuman animals with whom we are intimately connected.

Kathryn Gillespie is a PhD in Geography and teaches in the Geography Department, the Honors program, and the Comparative History of Ideas program at University of Washington. Her research focuses on uneven power relations in human-animal relations broadly. Specifically, her current research project is on the lives of cows in the Pacific Northwest dairy industry and the gendered commodification of their bodies.

February 27: Lousia Mackenzie (French and Italian Studies at UW Seattle), “Thinking with Cats”

Claude Levi-Strauss once said “animals are good to think.” But some animals are clearly better to think than others, and the place of the domestic cat in the history of ideas, from ancient Egypt to the internet (which is of course “made of cats”) is unsurpassed. With particular focus on the Renaissance, this talk will look at some of the questions cats have prompted humans to ask of themselves and of the human-animal divide itself.

Louisa Mackenzie is Associate Professor in the Department of French and Italian Studies. Her teaching interests range from the French Renaissance (where most of her research has been focused), through to contemporary science fiction, film, women’s writing, ecocriticism, and Animal Studies. She has taught mostly in French but currently offers two courses in English: “Europe in French Film”, and a graduate seminar on French Animal Studies. She will develop several more cross-disciplinary courses in English over the next few years. She is the author of a book on environment and poetry in the French Renaissance, which won an honorable mention from the MLA in 2012, and co-editor of a forthcoming edited volume on Animal Studies in French and Francophone contexts. She has two articles forthcoming on animals in 16th-century humanist thought (including one on her favorite Renaissance beast, a sea-monster).

March 6: María Elena García (Comparative History of Ideas and the Jackson School of International Studies, UW Seattle) and Tony Lucero (Jackson School of International Studies, UW Seattle), “Dancing Guinea Pigs and a Heroic Rottweiler: Animals, Culture, and Politics in Peru”

Animals in Peru, as in most countries, are an inescapable part of public life. We are interested in exploring recent controversies in Peru that involve both actually-existing animal bodies as well as representations of certain animals that serve as ideological vehicles for various political projects. In this presentation we explore what guinea pigs (cuyes) and a certain Rottweiler have to teach us about the politics of gastronomy, development, and race in 21st century Peru.

María Elena García is director of the Comparative History of Ideas and associate professor in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. She received her PhD in Anthropology at Brown University and has been a Mellon Fellow at Wesleyan University and Tufts University. Her first book, Making Indigenous Citizens: Identities, Development, and Multicultural Activism in Peru (Stanford, 2005) examines Indigenous politics and multicultural activism in Peru. Her work on Indigeneity and interspecies politics in the Andes has appeared in multiple edited volumes and journals. Her second book project, Dancing Guinea Pigs and Other Tales of Race in Peru, explores the lives and deaths of guinea pigs as one way to think about the cultural politics of contemporary Peru, especially in relation to food, Indigeneity and violence.

José Antonio (Tony) Lucero is Chair of Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Associate Professor of International Studies. A graduate of Stanford (BA, Political Science) and Princeton (MA/PhD, Politics) Lucero has also studied at the Universitá di Firenze and the Colegio de México. He teaches courses on international political economy, cultural interactions, social movements, Latin American politics, and borderlands. Lucero is the author of Struggles of Voice: The Politics of Indigenous Representation in the Andes, a work that puts canonical Western theories of political order in dialogue with the praxis of indigenous social movements. He is currently working on research projects on the cultural politics of (1) conflicts between Awajún/Wampis Indigenous communities and the filmmaker Werner Herzog in Peru (2) human rights activism, religion, and Indigenous politics on the Mexico-US border. He is co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous Peoples Politics (Oxford University Press, forthcoming) and co-author of several works with fellow UW Professor María Elena García (CHID), the most recent of which is their son José-Antonio Simón Lucero-García (future UW Class of 2033).

Event Details

Henry Art Gallery Auditorium — University of Washington