Call for Presentations

Making Sense of the Animal – Human Bond and Relationship(s)

The Making Sense of the Animal – Human Bond Project: 2nd Global Meeting

Monday 20th July – Wednesday 22nd July 2015
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom


Call for Presentations:
While humans are clearly classified as part of the animal world, we have a long and sometimes questionable history of both differentiating ourselves from animals and at the same time identifying ourselves with specific animals or unique animal qualities. This conference invites scholars from many disciplines and across cultures to reflect upon the conundrum of meaning: we are same but different.  What do animals mean in our personal lives as well as our societal and cultural lives? And how have those relationships been collaborative or at cross-purposes?

 Even as species vanish due to human actions of destroying their habitat (example: polar bears, coral, frogs), we find ourselves emotionally invested in other species.  Americans alone spent $61 billion on their beloved pets.  And they are not alone.  But we also use animals for valuable research—both for human and animal health.  Recently, a court case In New York State (USA) was brought to declare a chimpanzee a person.  While this case was dismissed, the concern lingers on as philosophers, ethologists, zoologists continue to advance of knowledge of animal cognition and emotion.  We eat animals, use them as tools and for entertainment, and yet also love them and admire them for their beauty and presence in the world.  All of these facts raise questions and quandaries: what does it mean to be an animal?  To be a person?  Wherein lies our proper relationship(s) between humans and animals?  This conference invites inquiry into all aspects of this – relationship

The nature of ID-Net conference is to share research, reflection, and creative engagement, thereby crafting an interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary understanding.  Our goal is to create contexts within which theoreticians, practitioners, skilled professionals and others can begin to engage with each other towards a deeper and broader understanding of the nature of animals and their place in the world and in our lives.

Possible themes include but are not limited to:

1. The Mythic Animal:
Roles of animals in tribal societies
– Animals as sacred entities
– Images of animals as the sources of  the evil and of the divine
– Good animal/bad animal?
– Animals in rituals

2. Are Pets a Positive or Problematic Relationship?:
Pets as substitutes and instruments for people
– The case against pets
– Pets and human health; effects on well-being, mental and physical situations and quality of life.
– Pets and the human life cycle- what we are looking for at each stage.
– Pets and their effect on the living environment
– Humane pets and inhuman people
– Animal abuses/animal uses

3. Animals Within/Without Our Culture:
Classifying animals relationally: pets, service animals, agricultural animals, wild animals, lab animals, entertainment.
– Economics of industries organized around our relationship to animals (pet products, livestock markets, etc.)
– Bio-engineering and breeding: developing “improved” species for human need (companionship, work, food, entertainment)
– Animal psychologies and therapies—for animals/for humans
– Technologies that enhance the animal-human relationship: medical progress, electronic chipping, cameras monitoring animals in their habitats, animation techniques that render animals as surrogates

4. The Ethical Questions: Animal Rights, Animal Welfare and Animal as Instruments:
Human vs. animal: points of conflict and their ecological implications: dealing with undesirable animals, the ethics of culling and extermination and endangered animal species, the privileging of some animal species over others
– Defining and distinguishing animal rights and animal welfare: what do we owe animals?
– Animal communication: intra- and inter-species
– Animals as entertainment: zoos, circuses, rodeos, in sports
– What makes the wild into the domestic?
– Training animals vs. dominating them?
– Hunting/fishing/livestock: animals as a sustaining force for humankind
– Animals and global trade relationship.
– Vegetarianism as a moral stance in the human-animal relationship.
– NGOs that promote animal safety: cross-cultural challenges

5. Animal Analogies/Clues/Inspiration:
Animals and medical/scientific research
– Animal societies: kinship, family, friends
– Symbolic animals: the animal in literature,  art, and new media
– Animals and avatars: internet memes and Facebook pages
– Research on animals’ social behavior and how does it relate to us

The Steering Group welcomes the submission of proposals for short workshops, practitioner-based activities, performances, and pre-formed panels. We particularly welcome short film screenings; photographic essays; installations; interactive talks and alternative presentation styles that encourage engagement.

What to Send:
Proposals will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word proposals should be submitted by Friday 3rd April 2015. If a proposal is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper of no more than 3000 words should be submitted by Friday 12th June 2015. Proposals should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: Animals 2 Proposal Submission.

All abstracts will be at least double blind peer reviewed. Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs:
Tamar Axelrad-Levy: axelevy@bezeqint.net
Wendy Turgeon
: turgeon@optonline.net
Rob Fisher: a&h2@inter-disciplinary.net

The conference is part of the Making Sense of: series of ongoing research and publications projects conferences, run within the Probing the Boundaries domain which aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore innovative and challenging routes of intellectual and academic exploration. All proposals accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook.  Selected proposals may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.

Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.