Conference: Cosmopolitan Animals
26-27 October 2012, Institute of English Studies, University of London, Senate House
Recent scholarship on human-animal relationships has begun to explore our sharing, co-existing, and ‘becoming with’ animals. Such a scholarly focus brings into perspective new possibilities and permutations of cosmopolitanism, calling for a fresh awareness that animals are fellow creatures, that hosting and hospitality are not restricted to relationships between humans, and that worldliness is far from being a human monopoly. In what ways can we conceptualise cosmopolitanisms which are not solely ‘human’, and where and how are such relationships made possible? This conference, under the theme of ‘Cosmopolitan Animals’, seeks to interrogate and decentre humanist metanarratives that have dominated our thinking and ways of living, while looking to the many non-human others who populate the cosmos. Animal cosmopolitanism not only raises the serious issues of our responsibility for, and responsiveness to, animal others (Derrida), or what Isabelle Stengers calls ‘cosmopolitics’, which according to Haraway, includes our ‘bearing the mortal consequences’ for the decisions we make over animal bodies and worlds. Our rapidly inter-linking world also urgently requires coordination between the local and the international in addressing issues that concern humans and non-humans equally, including the detritus of empires and their aftermaths, new intensities of exploitation and commodification, and new pressures of migration, immigration, and circulation that severely test existing ethics of hospitality, hosting, sharing, and co-mingling.
This conference is supported by the Institute of English Studies (IES), the Kent Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (KIASH), the School of English, the School of History, the Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century, the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, and the Centre for American Studies.
Conference Committee: Prof. Donna Landry, Prof. Caroline Rooney, Dr. Kaori Nagai and Dr. Monica Mattfeld, (School of English), Dr. Karen Jones and Dr. Charlotte Sleigh (School of History), University of Kent, UK
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