Thursday, 8 November 2012

'When Species Meet': Animal Experience, Human Emotion

Call For Papers:
Fourth International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies
1-3 July 2013 at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands

‘When Species Meet’: Animal Experience, Human Emotion

Organiser: Daniel Allen (Independent Scholar, UK)
Co-Chair: Bettina van Hoven (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)

Beyond geography there is a general acceptance that humans have an emotional connection with animals (Wilson, 1984; Urbanik, 2012). Despite a concerted effort to ‘put life back into the discipline’ (Spencer and Whatmore, 2001), individual animals remain ‘somewhat shadowy presences’ (Philo, 2006) in geography. It is collectivised categories such as livestock, wildlife, captives, companions, experimental subjects, political, edible and sexual objects, which have emerged from the margins to animate more-than-human geographies. Research on the individuality of living beings and their role in subjective human emotional experience are distinctly lacking.

There are exceptions which flirt with these ideas. Chris Bear (2011), whose paper focused on Angelica the Octopus, called for greater attention to be paid to the lived experience and encounters of individual creatures. Sushrut Jadhav and Maan Barua (2012) considered the impact of human-elephant conflict on people’s wellbeing. There have also been recent papers on the autistic autobiographies of the natural world (Davidson and Smith, 2009), and even human-animal intimacy (Brown and Rasmussen, 2010; Griffin, 2012). Perhaps for fear of sentimentalism, scholars other than those from the feminist care tradition (see Donovan and Adams, 2007), have avoided this topic.

This session draws inspiration from Donna Haraway’s, When Species Meet (2007). For Haraway, ‘species of all kinds, living or not, are consequent on a subject- and object-shaping dance of encounters’. Whether it is in the home, field, factory or zoo, these shared experiences are loaded meaning and emotion. Such interspecies encounters generate questions of who we are and how we feel. This session encourages autobiographical and biographical papers in relation to individual animal or individual species encounters.

Please send abstracts of about 300 words to both Daniel ( and Bettina ( before January 10th, 2013.

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