Workshop invitation

The study of human-animal relations is a fascinating but still relatively unexplored research area. One of the reasons why the social sciences and humanities in general have been reluctant in dealing with the issue is the classical nature/culture divide. While “society” consists of humans and their interaction in institutions and culture, other animals become excluded and conceptualised as “nature”.  The presence of animals can thereby, on the one hand, ”decivilize” human activities and urban places. But on the other hand, we have a strong Western tradition of linking the treatment of other animals with degrees of civilization: the more “humane”, the higher the civilisation. Put together, this points to an interesting potential openness of categories and flexibility in the understanding of humans and other animals. This potential openness creates a space for questioning taken for granted discourses and truths, and this is where the critical potential of animal studies lies. Internationally, animal studies is a growing interdisciplinary field with specialized journals, conferences and networks. We have noted that in the Nordic countries, it is still a quite small and divided community of researchers, and we believe that an explorative Nordic workshop would support and consolidate the building of an animal studies research network. We draw on the experiences made and the contacts gained from the international conference Society, animals and gender, held at the Centre for Gender Research in Uppsala in August earlier this year.

With funding from the Nordic Research Council and the Swedish Research Council via the research programme GenNa: Nature/Culture and Transgressive Encounters, we would like to invite you to a two-day workshop 9-10 June 2008. The aim of the workshop is to continue the building of a sustainable interdisciplinary network of Nordic researchers within the area of animal studies, and to draw up plans for new research collaborations and project applications. The themes of the workshop include, but is not restricted to, human-animal relations in science, culture and labour and the workshop is consequently called Investigating human-animal relations in science, popular culture and labour. The workshop will be held at the Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University. More information will soon be available at our website: www.genna.gender.uu.se.

Keynote speaker is Professor Lynda Birke from the UK, well known for her many years of research on both biology and feminist theory and human-animal relations. Lynda Birke is the author of a countless number of publications, for example ”Feminism, Animals and Science: the Naming of the Shrew” (1994) ”Feminism and the biological body” (1999) and most recently ”The Sacrifice” (together with Mike Michael and Arnold Arluke, 2007). Our prominent guest aside, the key idea is to create a workshop atmosphere. To fulfil the aims of the workshop, each and everyone first gets an opportunity to present ongoing research, and will then form thematically divided discussion groups. The workshop will be held in English.  

This invitation is personal. Travel expenses, accommodation and all costs for the workshop are provided by the organizers. In return, we expect every delegate to make a written contribution to the report proceeding the workshop. Since we only have room for a limited number of participants, we would like to get your registration before 15 February, 2008. Please e-mail Tora Holmberg, Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala (tora.holmberg@gender.uu.se), who will also be happy to answer any questions you might have. We sincerely hope to see you in Uppsala in June!

Tora Holmberg, Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala
Kristin Asdal, TIK (Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture), Oslo
Sakari Tamminen, Dept. of Social Psychology, Helsinki