Animals And Urban Planning: Indian Cities As Zoöpolises

Investigators: Dr. Yamini Narayanan, Deakin University, and Prof. Jennifer Wolch, University of California Berkeley

Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Project

This project casts animals as vital components of urban societies in India. India’s rapid urbanisation and biodiversity decline together have critical global implications, but the complex social dimensions of Indian urban biodiversity are overlooked in current planning. This project examines the everyday realities of selected wild, commensal, and commoditised species who live close to humans. It will show how these realities are also outcomes of being enmeshed in social frameworks to offer an expanded empirical basis for planning to sustain urban biodiversity, and devise species-inclusive zoöpolises as successful cities of the future. In partnership with the leading animal geographer Prof. Jennifer Wolch, University of California Berkeley, this Discovery project is funded by the Australian Research Council.


Human-environment relationships in pastoral communities of the eastern Tibetan plateau

Investigator: Dr. Gilian G. Tan, Deakin University

Gillian Tan’s research focuses on human-environment relationships in pastoral communities of the eastern Tibetan plateau. She has written on human-yak interactions and changes wrought by grassland policies and management. Her current projects explore the dynamic relationships among humans, non-human others, and environment from perspectives of historical and ethnographic analyses, including a recently-awarded Discovery Project on an environmental history of a Tibetan river.

List of relevant publications: 2018. Pastures of Change: Contemporary Adaptations and Transformations among Nomadic Pastoralists of Eastern Tibet. Geneva: Springer Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation.

2016a. In the Circle of White Stones: Moving through Seasons with Nomads of Eastern Tibet. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

2016b. 'Life' and 'Freeing Life' among Nomadic Pastoralists of Kham: Intersecting Religion and Environment. Études Mongoles et Sibériennes, Centrasiatiques et Tibétaines (EMSCAT) 47: Nomads’ Religious Lives, mis en ligne le 21 Decembre 2016. URL: 

2014. An Ecology of Religiosity: Re-examining Relationships between Humans and Nonhumans. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture 8 [3]: 307-328.

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Unpacking the nature of strangeness/Otherness

Investigators: Assoc. Prof. Vince Marotta, Deakin University

Associate Professor Vince Marotta’s research has focused on unpacking the nature of strangeness/otherness and his current project examines the ways in which non-human animals have been othered and constituted as strangers. In other words, to what extent can we use the idea of the stranger, which is a key concept in sociological thought to describe an encounter that is physically close but socially distant, to interpret human/non-human animal interactions? Can factory farming animals be constituted as strangers even though they are both physically and socially distant to many humans? Can a sense of strangeness still exists between ourselves and companion animals even though they are physically and socially close? Associate Professor Vince Marotta attempts to answer these questions by exploring the extent to which the stranger is a multi-species category.