Keynote Speakers

The organizing committee is happy to announce the following three invited keynote speakers:

HENRY BULLER is Professor of Rural Geography at Exeter. His research examines the dynamics of production and consumption within the context of nature, rurality and food. Visit Henry's homepage by clicking here.

Abstract:

“One Slash of Light, then Gone”: Animals as Movement
Animals are defined by movement. Animals are movement. “Some animals fly, some swim, some walk, others move in various other ways” wrote Aristotle around 350 BC. ‘Most animals are motile’ Wikipedia reassures us while Linneaus’ classification of plants and animals turned largely (but not exclusively) on the ‘movement’ of the latter and the fixity of the former. It comes as no surprise that Muybridge’s experiments with moving film images should have begun in 1873 with animals. As Lippit (2000, p. 185), commenting on Muybridge’s work, remarks: “The figure of the animal has always been destined to serve as the symbol of movement itself”.   However, if the physicality of animal movement has been one of their predominantly defining biological characteristics, then other forms of animal ‘movement’ have long characterised their relative placing within a more human world. Here too, animals move (and make move) in many different ways. Bentham and Montaigne’s acknowledgement of animal suffering ultimately moved (certain) animals into the ethical purview of a more empathetic humanism. Heidegger’s (1995) concern for animal movement allows him to differentiate the ‘captive’ motility of those ‘poor of world’ from world-forming humans while the upturned and unblinking gaze of Derrida’s cat ultimately moves the status of human subject. “To become animal”, write Deleuze and Guattari (1986, p. 13) “is to participate in movement”. Of course, that ‘movement’ is not always beneficial or in the animal’s interest. John Berger (1980) famously describes the disappearance of animals, their movement out of the real and into the virtual and symbolic world of representation. The internationalisation of the livestock trade and the movement of animal bodies within the human food chain (Shukin, 2009), the conservation of wild species and the global exchange networks that keep zoos populated with charismatic fauna (Whatmore and Thorne, 2000) the movement between the human and the animal that, for Haraway (1997), typifies the new techno-science of interspecies relationality … all reveal the unceasing mobility of animals. These animal movements spawn social movements and, paradoxically, animals move seemingly closer both through the accessability of new media technologies and through the affective politics of animal association. Animals never stop moving, never stop moving us, never stop moving across and between the frontiers by which we set them apart.



Professor NIGEL ROTHFELS, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, is an historian and author of several important books, including Representing animals (2002) and Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the modern Zoo (2002). Visit Nigel's homepage by clicking here.

Abstract:

Preserving Animals in Time
As concern for animal extinction gained momentum at the beginning of the twentieth  century, many people, including figures like Carl Akeley, William Temple Hornaday, and C. G. Schillings, argued that perhaps the only way to preserve animals for the future was to  collect them immediately in photographs and museums.  Their ultimately impossible hope was to somehow stop time and perhaps even total extinction by preserving parts and images  of living animals.  This paper examines the idea of stopping time and extinction through  the use of photographic records and taxidermy.



PhD BRYNDÍS SNAEBJÖRNSDÓTTIR is an artist and researcher and co-editor of the book Nanoq: Flat Out and Bluesome - A Cultural Life of Polar Bears (2006). Visit Bryndis's homepage by clicking here

Abstract:

Contested Space: Uncertainty in the City
In our wishful ordering of the world we attempt to consign animals to places beyond the city boundaries (unless exempted through their designation as pets).  Yet looking out of the window of most urban dwellings one is aware of the fallacy of this territorial claim. Uncertainty in the City is an art project by Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson that explores the overlap of nature and culture within the fabric of the city and the conflicting attitudes that exist amongst humans in their response to this meeting. 
The city is a fortress, albeit one built to accommodate interior mobility but with stasis and stability at its heart.  A hidden constituency of residents, in the park, in the garden, beneath our floorboards and in the cavities of our walls has been opportunistic in foiling a human demarcation of space, despite our attempts to exert total control.  At a certain point, because to other species our borders are soft and porous, actual control must always fall short and its semblance be manifest only in the denial of such challenges.
An alternative to this may lie in organizing the city around an acceptance of cohabitation as opposed to displacement or eradication. Examples of this approach already exist where planning has been conducted to allow for instance the migration of toads by means of specially built tunnels beneath busy roads, thereby saving them from mass slaughter.
Humans within a city context who test or transgress accepted territorial boundaries by an active and exaggerated encouragement of non-human animals, are often seen to be profoundly different, even dysfunctional in relation to a societal norm and as a consequence often become marginalized within their immediate communities. In the light of this, Uncertainty in the City aims to question our reflex attitudes regarding what it means to be socially human, how such paradigms are challenged by the encroachment or proximity of non-human beings and in turn to challenge conventional readings of what constitutes ‘strength’ and ‘weakness’.