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 Cluster: Supported 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 Series: Co-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.