Recent work in political philosophy, animal studies, and ethology, asks us to view nonhuman animals as subjects with their own perspective on life. Other animals have their own languages and cultures, and co-shape practices that are often understood as exclusively human. They actively relate to others of their own and different species, and some argue they should be seen as political and social actors in mixed human-animal communities. Viewing other animals as subjects or political actors shifts research questions from how we, humans, should treat them, animals, to a different set of questions: What kind of relationships do they have with each other and humans? What kind of relationships they may desire to have with us? And how can we, collectively, find new ways of co-existing?
Challenging human exceptionalism, speciesism, and anthropocentrism in theory and practice asks not only that we investigate other animals’ capabilities, desires, and relations; we also need to rethink concepts such as language, politics, and culture, with them. This conference addresses the question of nonhuman animal agency from different theoretical directions, ranging from philosophy to ethology, aiming to critically reflect on the exclusion of other animals from thought and practice, and to explore alternatives.
This intensive two day seminar welcomes a broad range of responses from a variety of disciplines, including philosophy, anthropology, sociology, geography, literary studies, art history, politics and critical studies. Companion animals are welcome to join, if so inclined. As are proposals to (non-intrusively) mediate the active presence of wildlife or liminal creatures.