Call for papers
Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, Los Angeles CA, April 9-13, 2013
Places of co-habitation, Spaces of imagination
Organisers: Mara Miele (School of Planning and Geography, Cardiff University, UK) and Henry Buller (Geography, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK)
Session sponsored by ANGSG
Perhaps one of the most important contributions of animal studies and animal geographies is that they invite us to explore different ways of knowing and being in the world; ways that are determinedly less (or rather more-than) anthropocentric and humanist; ways that acknowledge and celebrate co-presence. Cary Wolfe challenges us to “rethink our taken-for-granted modes of human experience, including the normal perceptual models and affective states of Homo Sapiens” (2010), while Haraway asks: “What if work and play, and not just pity, open up when the possibility of mutual response, without names, is taken seriously as an everyday practice available to philosophy and to science?”(2008). Animal studies have already demonstrated their pertinence in offering an innovative terrain for such ‘opening up’ through, first, conceptual, second, political and, third, methodological innovation. Of the latter in particular, we might identify experimental ethno-ethological (Lestel et al. 2006) and trans-species methodologies (Franklin et al, 2007), symmetrical anthropologies (Kohler, 2012), the importance given to embodied performance and the shared sentience and agencies of cohabitation (Goode, 2007); methods that, in Despret’s words offer “the generosity of intelligence, polite ways of entering into relationships with non humans” (2005 p. 368). However, there is a fourth terrain of innovation; that of imagination. While this has been the privileged ground of cultural studies’ engagement with the animal, animal geography has been less immediately present here. Yet, we argue, like McHugh (2011) in her pursuit of a ‘narrative ethology’ that imagination, imaginary encounters, the imaginaries of co-habitation with non-human animals all “serve as spawning grounds for forms of species and social agency” (p. 19). How might the lived experience of co-habitation with animals generate new imagined forms that extend our range and understanding of shared spaces? How might co-habitation itself be imagined?
In 2009, The artist Kira O'Reilly undertook a durational performance, "Falling Asleep With a Pig" in which the she lived with a live pig called Delia for some days in a specially constructed sty. The work was commissioned for the show 'Interspecies' by The Arts Catalyst, and was shown at Cornerhouse Manchester and the A Foundation, London. As Kira describes it: ‘The duration of the work allows for Deliah and myself to enter into periods of sleep together, and for the positioning of us, two entirely similar mammals, to be considered in this most basic and fundamental of states [...]Soft, sleepy, warm, cosy, two bodies at their most basic. Dreams and touch, cold and warmth. The falling, watching as an eye feels the pull of sleep gravity and is unable to resist that tumble into sleep state, as my eye also makes that tumble. The pig eye of Deliah becomes altogether familiar from the strange and the other. There is continually a flickering between known and recognised, identifying with and non-recognition (2010: 35-41).
This session invites papers that take issue with the risky entanglements of human nonhuman lives in contemporary places of co-habitation, attending to the proliferation, the hybridity and the ambivalence of the spaces of human-nonhuman animals encounters. From the managed spaces of conservation areas, to new housing systems of farm animals that propose the substitution of human workers with robotic equipments or those that enable a ‘zoo’ experience at laying hens facilities to the urban consumers to the increasing presence of urban agriculture or animal hording in cities, from the explosion of the number of companion animals to the increasing number of stray dogs and feral cats in urban areas....the places of co-habitation are increasingly sites of tension and contestation but they also afford the possibility of experiencing the natural world as inside our homes and therefore challenge an easy separation of the ‘human’ from nature, the human animal from the non-human animal.
Please send an abstract (max 250 words) of your paper and expressions of interest to Mara Miele ([log in to unmask]) or Henry Buller ([log in to unmask])
We’d be very grateful if you could submit abstracts to us by 1st October 2012.