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Q: What is the Crit­i­cal Ani­mal Stud­ies Work­ing Group at the Uni­ver­sity of Washington?

A: The Crit­i­cal Ani­mal Stud­ies Work­ing Group is a col­lab­o­ra­tion of stu­dents, fac­ulty mem­bers and staff at the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton. Our mis­sion is to expand, enrich, and cre­ate new spaces for the pub­lic dis­cus­sion over the place of non-human ani­mals in soci­ety. Though our group is located at the UW and com­mit­ted to bring­ing animal-related ques­tions to var­i­ous units across cam­pus, we have a broad notion of com­mu­nity which guides our efforts to develop con­nec­tions with com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tions, activists, and intellectuals.

Among our ongo­ing activ­i­ties are the following:

A Speaker Series: A series of pub­lic talks and work­shops on top­ics related to Crit­i­cal Ani­mal Studies.

A Research Clus­terSup­ported by the UW Simp­son Cen­ter for the Human­i­ties in 2010–2011, the “Ani­mals, Vio­lence, Jus­tice” research group was a cross-disciplinary research clus­ter that brought stu­dents, fac­ulty, and staff together to explore the place of ani­mals in soci­ety. In pub­lic talks and work­shops, we focused on three spe­cific areas of inquiry: the inter­sec­tions of human and ani­mal rights, the power of visual rep­re­sen­ta­tion of ani­mals, and the impli­ca­tions of crit­i­cal ani­mal stud­ies for the emerg­ing research agen­das of posthu­man­ism. Activ­i­ties for the 2010–2011 aca­d­e­mic year included writ­ing work­shops with UW fac­ulty, stu­dents, and staff; two pub­lic lec­tures by promi­nent guest schol­ars; and work­shops with each invited lecturer.

A Regional Net­work: In con­junc­tion with the AVJ research clus­ter, we began artic­u­lat­ing orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­u­als whose work, research, or advo­cacy relates to improv­ing the lives of non-human ani­mals and under­stand­ing the invis­i­bi­lized forms of vio­lence that take their toll on human and non-human ani­mals. Empha­siz­ing the con­se­quences that many sci­en­tific, agri­cul­tural, and com­mer­cial activ­i­ties have on human and non-human lives, we are con­cerned with explor­ing the inter­sec­tional and inter­twined futures of many species, includ­ing our own.

A Film SeriesCo-sponsored by the Clowes Cen­ter for the Study of Con­flict and Dia­logue, in 2010–2011 we screened films that pro­voked seri­ous and often painful encoun­ters with the suf­fer­ing of non-human ani­mals. These films were also meant to offer sources of hope as many show­cased the vic­to­ries of ani­mal advo­cacy and education.