I (Nik Taylor) teach a critial animal studies class at the University of Canterbury in Aotearoa New Zealand. The class, Humans, Animals and Society, takes a broadly sociological approach to the study of human relationships with other animals by focussing on the ways that our – arbitrary – social construction of other animals impacts their (mal)treatment and normalised oppression in everyday practices.
One of the challenges in this class for both teachers and learners is the confrontational nature of the content (I’ve written, with Heather Fraser, more about teaching controversial issues in animal studies in this volume, Teaching Liberation). As a result of these challenges, I’m always looking for ways to help students manage the feelings the material inevitably brings up. This year, with the helps of Julie Wuthnow and Roseanna Brailsford from the University of Canterbury’s Academic Skills centre, I set a digital storytelling assignment for the students.
Digital storytelling, when used in a shcolarly setting, ‘involves students integrating academic research, scholarly communication, and digital skills to create digital content’ (Schrum et al, 2021). It has the potential to ensure students are engaged in authentic learning particularly when the problems the assessment focusses on are complex and often ill-defined (as they are in human-animal relations), and it can also lead to/augment the kinds of transformative pedadgogy that my particular course is based on (Schrum et al, 2021).
Students were set the task of creating a 1-2 minute video on one aspect of how their relationship to and/or thinking about other animals had changed throughout the course. The assignment was integrated throughout the course with several workhops over the duration of the semester focussing on scripting, story structure, and, using relevant technology, and we showed all the videos (students could choose to opt out) in a final session of the course.
Student feedback indicates that they very much enjoyed the task, seeing it as a chance to get creative, as something different from the usual essay based work they were set, and as something that helped them think through the various emotional repsonses they had to the course material. At the end of the final class, I aksed students if they would be willing to have their videos hosted on this site, and several of them gave their permission. You can see those videos below.
Congratulations to all of our NZCHAS members and associates – you made it to the end of 2021 – cue tears and cheers!
Summer holidays are finally here and the New Year is rapidly approaching. I wonder what my New Year’s resolution will be this time around – except, who am I kidding… it’s definitely to finish my PhD by the end of 2022. I am sure the other postgrads – and those who have done postgraduate degrees – will know the feeling all too well!
This end-of-year bulletin is a snippet of what NZCHAS members have been up to this past year. Many thanks to those who contributed to collating our first post – seeing it all combined here together really makes me feel proud of our small – but growing! – community of animal studies scholars who are working in all corners of academia.
Keep an eye on this webpage as we will highlight what our community has been up to and will explore the world of Human-Animal Studies and showcase research coming out of New Zealand. We are the only centre of its kind in the country and, at least I believe, we have so much to offer the international Animal Studies community. I am so incredibly proud of NZCHAS – and I hope you feel the same too.
Emily Major PhD Scholar in Human-Animal Studies
Here’s what our members say they’ve accomplished this past year:
Dr Annie Potts
Published a piece in Fernando Do Campo’s Companion Companion Reader, called “Lotus the Sparrow”.
Forthcoming publication: Armstrong, P. & Potts, A. (2021). Persona Non Grata (Provocations Essay). Animal Studies Journal.
Began 2021 with a six-month long suspension from study, which was awesome and sorely needed! Not much was achieved then except lots of resting and not thinking about my research which has given much more motivation to continue now they are back.
June – Presented on their PhD research at the University of Kent ‘Animal Advocacy Conference‘
June – Presented on their research at the NZCHAS Postgrad Symposium
Since then, they’ve been writing and research for their PhD.
September – Successful confirmation of her PhD, ‘Contemporary Sociocultural and Political Analysis of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Human-Animal Relationships‘.
June – Presented on her research at the NZCHAS 2021 Postgrad Symposium.
March – Awarded a grant by the Culture & Animals Foundation to fund her blog, Framing Speciesism. This blog seeks to bridge the gap between research and activism, focusing on raising awareness about the framing of the possum in Aotearoa New Zealand.
June – Presented on her PhD research at the NZCHAS 2021 Postgrad Symposium.
June – Presented on her PhD research at the European Association for Critical Animal Studies (EACAS) ‘Appraising Critical Animal Studies’ conference.
June – Finalist for the Laura Bassi Scholarship (didn’t win, but got a commendation which isn’t half bad!)
October – Nominated for another year on the Australasian Animal Studies Association (AASA) committee as their postgraduate member
November – Interviewed for a forth-coming anthrozoology podcast, The Deal with Animals, by anthrozoologist, Marika Bell.
December – Presented on her PhD research at the Australasian Animals Studies Association (AASA) ‘Flourishing Animals’ Conference.
In general, she survived 2021 in tact with only some slight addictions to caffeine, buying presents for her rats, and fun-coloured tropical plants that may or may not die in her office.
Despite being in and out of lockdown, it’s been a fantastic year. I was able to get a heck of a lot accomplished. I just recently finished a full working draft of my thesis. That’s probably my most proud achievement! Additionally, I presented my research about society’s expectations of dogs at the Anthrozoology in Practice Conference.
I have also taken on two collaborative projects. One with my supervisor, Dr. Nik Taylor and Dr. Heather Fraser from QUT on “Dogs Becoming Family,” a project partially in support of Dogwatch Sanctuary Trust. The second project is a longitudinal study with Dr. Mia Cobb (U. Melbourne) and Dr. Catherine Reeve (U. Queen’s Belfast) on dogs and their people during and post pandemic.
On an applied front, I have been elected as the President of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers New Zealand. My business, Merit Dog Project has grown significantly this year (despite trying to keep things relatively quiet). I was also asked to be a keynote speaker at the Companion Animals New Zealand International Conference. I was alongside an amazing line-up or experts and was really grateful to be part of it.
And, although this is a professional bulletin, I honestly couldn’t end without acknowledging how far my little dog, Juno, has come. She has many fears and anxieties but is more confident in herself every day and I could not be prouder of her.
Researching and writing her (tentatively-titled) PhD, ‘Captivity Imagined: a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary exploration of the conditions of captivity in zoos and sanctuaries and a critical examination of captive animal ambassadorial roles‘
June – Presented on her PhD research at the 2021 NZCHAS Postgrad Symposium
Dr Henrietta Mondry
Published Book: Mondry, H. (2021). Embodied Differences: The Jew’s Body and Materiality in Russian Literature and Culture. Boston: Academic Studies Press.
This book analyses the ways in which literary works and cultural discourses employ the construct of the Jew’s body in relation to the material world in order either to establish and reinforce, or to subvert and challenge, dominant cultural norms and stereotypes. It examines the use of physical characteristics, embodied practices, tacit knowledge and senses to define the body taxonomically as normative, different, abject or mimetically desired. Starting from the works of Gogol and Dostoevsky through to contemporary Russian-Jewish women’s writing, broadening the scope to examining the role of objects, museum displays, and the politics of heritage food, the book argues that materiality can embody fictional constructions that should be approached on a culture-specific basis.
Chapters discussing animal themes include:
Chapter 2: “The power of meat: defining ethnicity and masculinity in Gogol”
Chapter 5: “Animal Advocacy and Ritual Murder Trials”
Passed her confirmation seminar with her project titled “More-than-human Tongues: Talking Animals and Their Agencies in Technocultural Networks“.
November – Presented on her research at the ALPSSGRAD 2021 – Graduate and Postgraduate Conference. Additionally won Highly Commended Paper for her presentation.
November – Presented on her research at the Digital Humanities Australasia Conference
Forthcoming Publication: Krylova, K., (2021). “Sentient Body: Re-liberation of Dissident Subjectivity through Skinship”. Pulse: The Journal of Science and Culture, 8.
Forthcoming publication: Krylova, K. (2021). “Not in Love and Never Alone: Understanding neo-liberal intimacies through The Lobster”. Film International, 19(2).
Dr Kirsty Dunn
Successfully submitted and defended her PhD thesis, “‘Into the Dark, We are Moths’ Reading Animal Whanaunga in Māori Writing in English“.
A poem, “Whai”, was accepted for publication in a Climate Change Anthology to be published by AUP in the new year; this work was drawn from my PhD mahi and references Te Ika a Māui (the fish of Māui) and other animal whanaunga too.
I am also excited to be teaching ‘Māori Writing in English‘ as a summer school paper this year at UC; much of the course explores representations of and relationships with other animal species.
A big mihi to Annie Potts, Philip Armstrong, and Garrick Cooper for their tautoko.
Dr Nik Taylor
June – Keynote titled ‘Animal Rescuers: Challenging Institutionalized Animal Violence and Abuse through Everyday Practice’ at the University of Turku conference, ‘Multispecies Knowledges and the Industrialization of Animal Exploitation’.
August – Interviewed for a Stuff article about family violence and pet abuse.
September – Delighted to be the assessor for NZCHAS’s Eilish Espiner’s (confirmed!) PhD confirmation seminar.
October – Webinar with Associate Professor Heather Fraser on animal abuse and domestic violence for Lucy’s Project, called “Let’s talk about the leash: Coercive control and animals”.
Journal Article: Riggs, D., Baum, N., Taylor, N., & Beall, J. (2021). Reports of Animal Abuse in Child Protection Referrals: A Study of Cases from One South Australian Service. Child Abuse Review.
Journal Article: Fraser, H., Taylor, N., & Riggs, DW. (2021). Animals in Disaster Social Work: An Intersectional Green Perspective Inclusive of Species. The British Journal of Social Work, 51(5), 1739-1758.
Book: Riggs, D. W., Rosenberg, S., Fraser, H., & Taylor, N. (2021). Queer Entanglements: Intersections of Gender, Sexuality, and Animal Companionship. Cambridge University Press.
Dr Patrick O’Sullivan
Journal Article: O’Sullivan P. (2021) From Olympus to Aitna: Homer, Gorgias and the Power of Music in Pindar’s Pythian 1. In H. Reid and V. Lewis (Ed.), Pindar in Sicily: 119-142. Iowa: Parnassos Press.
Journal Article: O’Sullivan PD. (2021) Satyric Friendship in Euripides’ Cyclops. In Antonopoulos A; Harrison, G.; Christopoulos M (Ed.), Reconstructing Satyr Drama: 375-394. Berlin: De Gruyter.
Dr Philip Armstrong
Has been on sabbatical for the second half of 2021
Forthcoming Publication: Armstrong, P. & Potts, A. (2021). Persona Non Grata (Provocations Essay). Animal Studies Journal.
June – Presented on her MA research at the 2021 NZCHAS Postgrad Symposium
Coming up for 2022
And while this is not strictly for 2021, we can’t leavewithout saying how excited we are to (finally!) have two new postgraduate researchers joining us in 2022. We are thrilled to introduce Marlies Bockstal and Shannon Johnstone to our NZCHAS postgrad community and we’re all looking forward to hearing about their work.
Research Centre Blog for the University of Canterbury