1. Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare and the Posthumanities

Posthumanism is an umbrella term for humanities-led approaches to ethical, political and conceptual problems which aim to be less anthropocentric. The posthumanities combine advancements in technology and the sciences with philosophical thinking to develop alternatives to humanism, a way of thinking which, in its focus on the centrality of ‘Man,’ is no longer sufficient to address the ethical and environmental challenges of the twenty-first century. In the context of animal life, posthumanism invites us to ask questions such as:

  • which lives have ethical value? Can we think ethically through ideas of community and relations, rather than only through personhood?
  • How can we think about the complementarity of animal and human welfare?
  • How can the humanities work with the sciences to find the best language and approaches to address these problems?
  • What role do new technologies play in helping us to address these questions?
  • How might research in the posthumanities illuminate and assist policy-making on animal welfare?

This workshop brings researchers from the sciences and the humanities together with animal charity representatives and animal committee members to open a dialogue around these issues.

9.15-9.45 Arrival 

9.45-10am Introduction: What are the Posthumanities?

10-11am Session 1: Animal Welfare and Policy-Making

Short talks from Prof Gail Davies (Professor of Human Geography, Exeter, member of UK Animals in Science Committee and participant in project ‘The Animal Research Nexus: Changing Constitutions of Science, Health and Welfare’) and Dr Penny Hawkins (Head, Research Animals Department, RSPCA), followed by discussion.

11-11.30am Tea and Coffee Break

11.30-12.30pm Session 2: Animal Welfare and Policy-Making – Two Examples

Two short talks followed by discussion. Phil Brooke (Research and Education Manager, CIWF) discusses philosophical approaches and how animal welfare research can help to drive policy. Dr Manuela Rossini (President of the European Society for Literature, Science and the Arts) discusses post-anthropocentric approaches to animal and human health, using the model of the ‘One Health’ initiative: https://www.swisstph.ch/en/about/eph/human-and-animal-health/one-health/

12.30-1.30pm Lunch 

1.30-3pm Session 3: Animal Welfare Policy: What do the (post)humanities have to offer and how can we include them?

This session opens with short statements from Dr Derek Ryan (Senior Lecturer in English, Kent), Dr Jonathan Birch (Associate Professor in Philosophy, LSE) and Olga Koroleva (Film Practice Fellow, QMUL), which then lead into a discussion chaired by Peter Adkins (PhD candidate, University of Kent).

3-4pm Tea and Coffee Break

4-5pm Session 4: Animal Welfare from Public Perception to Policy: Attitudes, Approaches, Language

A discussion of attitudes to animal welfare, with contributions from Prof Henry Buller (Professor of more-than Human Geography, University of Exeter and former member of UK Farm Animal Welfare Committee) and Dr Erika Cudworth (Professor of Feminist Animal Studies, UEL). Chaired by Jonathon Turnbull (PhD candidate, University of Cambridge).

5pm Closing remarks