About Deakin Critical Animal Studies Network

We are in the Anthropocene, the geologic era where human impact on ecological and planetary futures is unprecedented, and regarded to be irreversible. We have also entered times of intensified ultra-nationalism, conservatism, Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia. In this complex context, the role and vulnerabilities of nonhuman animals, their intricate entanglements in human politics and society, and the implications for human and nonhuman animal worlds has been under-theorised and under researched. Nonhuman animals are enmeshed in human urban political economies and societies, from issues of urban commons, climate change, religious and cultural traditions, livelihoods, health, and environmental sustainability. We live in an era of human-driven and imminent sixth mass extinction of species, rapid biodiversity erosion, and an era of animal production that is unprecedented in its domination and abjection of animal bodies.  

The need to address and challenge the anthropocentrism in our ways and practices of understanding our shared worlds, has never been more urgent. 

The Deakin Critical Animal Studies Network invites critical reflection in bringing marginalised communities of nonhuman animals into focus in our scholarship and teaching. We call for reflection on humans not only as race, culture, or gender, but humans as also species, and animals as also persons, and social and political actors, to dismantle one of Modernity’s oldest constructed binaries, ‘human’ and ‘animal’. The Network recognises that individual sentient beings comprise the mass collectives of highly controlled animal production spaces where their freedom, lives and bodies are forfeited to human control, and the precarity of wildlife and other animals as their habitats are erased by human-centric development.

Research Questions

The Deakin Critical Animal Studies Network warmly invites membership from scholars, activists and students from all discipline – sociology, anthropology, cultural heritage, development studies, international relations, geography, law, history, philosophy, criminology, biological, agricultural, and environmental sciences, among others – to contribute to conversations on the provocations and opportunities in recasting animals as subjects of study. It aims to support reflection that addresses the anthropocentrism in the academe, by asking questions that include but are not limited to:

  • How and why are the study of animals foundational to ideas of justice, diversity, peace, and good development?

  • How do configurations of power and privilege operate in the entanglements of ableism, racism, speciesism, and patriarchy, and in shaping the lives of both marginalised human and nonhuman communities?

  • How can different disciplines develop frameworks where animals’ ‘ontological status as subjects’ (Butler 2004: 98, 67) is recognised?

  • What methodological challenges and opportunities emerge in the humanities/social sciences, and the natural sciences in viewing animals as complex social co-conspirators with humans? How can collapsing the nature/culture binary in studying animals offer collaborative opportunities between hitherto distinct disciplines?

  • What socio-cultural, religious and ecological intersections of human and animal life can be excavated across different human cultures, and what concepts, practices and opportunities does this afford the animal civil movement?

  • What opportunities/delights/fulfilments arise via ethological, socio-political and ethically-driven understanding of nonhuman worlds, and their role in the co-production of the ‘social’ in our shared urban, regional, and ‘wild’ worlds?

  • What role does research and academia play in understanding and developing opportunities for animal liberation? 

The Network will host public lectures/seminars, conferences, and informal gatherings to foster a growing community of care, ethical work and collaborations for, and with, our nonhuman brethren.