Animal/Nonhuman Workshop

University of Chicago

Month: October 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015: “Determining what? Thoughts on pastoralism as a beastly problem in anthropology and beyond”

Hannah Chazin, Anthropology, University of Chicago

“Determining what? Thoughts on pastoralism as a beastly problem in anthropology and beyond”

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Pastoralism, generally, has been regarded as a ‘problem’ in classical Western political thought and in evolutionary narratives of political complexity. This paper suggests that these problems can be re-conceptualized as reflecting a discomfort with or rejection of the necessary hybridity of the herd, which encompasses both humans and animals. The beastly figures of the herd are doubly unruly. First, their capacities for directed action trouble any simple division between subject and object. Animals’ uneasy status as quasi-subjects (or quasi-objects) fuels debate about the meaning and nature of domestication. Second, while ‘nature versus nurture’ establishes the animal as a ‘determined’ entity to which the human is or is not reducible, any serious engagement with herd animals threatens to undermine animals’ function as the limit case for arguments about determinism (either genetic or environmental). In this workshop, I explore how pastoralists and their herds are viewed through a variety of determinist lenses in anthropological and other literatures. Through this discussion, I develop some ideas on how approaching species as relationality, rather than order, undoes some of the problematic essentialisms of traditional determinist logics.

Request a copy of the paper by emailing kpflaum@uchicago.edu.

Light refreshments will be served.

This event is free and open to the public. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance to attend should contact Katharine Mershon (kpflaum@uchicago.edu). 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015: “Beyond Good and Evil: Reading Religion in the American Pitbull”

Katharine Mershon, Divinity, University of Chicago

“Beyond Good and Evil: Reading Religion in the American Pitbull”

PLEASE NOTE SPECIAL LOCATION: Walker 302 at 4:30 PM

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This paper examines the religious rhetoric around rescue animals through the case study of the “pit bull,” America’s most ubiquitous and difficult to define rescue dog. Focusing specifically on the aftermath of the Michael Vick dog fighting case, I demonstrate the ways in which the pit bull is simultaneously demonized and sanctified in contemporary American culture. Depending on one’s attitude toward the dogs, Vick’s pit bulls were either represented as being unworthy or deserving of redemption. Through close readings of representations of the Vick dogs in American newspapers and social media, I examine the ways in which the pit bull simultaneously reifies and resists clear religious typologization as “pure good” or “pure evil.” In the conclusion, the paper offers some thoughts about how Vick’s fate is connected to the dogs he left behind.

Request a copy of the paper by emailing hutch@uchicago.edu.

Light refreshments will be served.

This event is free and open to the public. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance to attend should contact Bill Hutchison (hutch@uchicago.edu).

Tuesday, October 13, 2015: “The Sexual Politics of Meat Slideshow” with Carol Adams

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The Animal Studies Workshop is proud to support the  University of Chicago Animal Welfare Society in presenting—

“The Sexual Politics of Meat Slideshow”
Carol Adams, Independent Scholar

Special Location: International House, 1414 E. 59th Street

The University of Chicago Animal Welfare Society welcomes Carol J. Adams in celebration of the 25th anniversary of her groundbreaking work of vegetarian-feminist critical theory, The Sexual Politics of Meat. In her continuously evolving slideshow, Ms. Adams builds on The Sexual Politics of Meat and The Pornography of Meat, presenting insights developed through decades of intersectional scholarship and activism. Drawing from autobiography and a close study of contemporary cultural images, Ms. Adams elucidates the concept of the absent referent and applies this concept to the objectification, fragmentation, and consumption of the female and animal body. Ms. Adams further considers the ways in which meat advertising encodes whiteness and patriarchy. The event will be followed by a book sale and signing and reception catered by Upton’s Naturals. The event is free of charge and open to the general public.

The event is generously co-sponsored by the International House Global Voices Program, Critical Inquiry, The Center for International Studies Norman Wait Harris Fund, The Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, The Animal Studies Workshop, University of Chicago Undergraduate Women in Philosophy, UChicago Program on the Global Environment, Resources for Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP), The Seminary Co-op Bookstores, Upton’s Naturals, and VegFund.

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