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Humanimals: Examining Histories and Productions of Animal-Human Relationships

This international workshop seeks to reevaluate and expand our understanding of human-animal relations from a range of disciplinary angles, focusing in particular on moments and periods in history when such relations are highlighted or have undergone change.

Carla Freccero. Photo: Center for Cultural Studies, UCSC,

The workshop is open to all on Thursday 26 September. If you are having lunch, please register to within Sunday 22 September. There is no fee.


Thursday 26 September

Venue: P. A. Munch’s building (room 14, ground floor, enter through Niels Treschow's building). Niels Henrik Abels vei 36.

09.00-09.15 Coffee and registration

09.15-09.30 Welcome

09.30-11.00 Keynote 1: “Do Animals Have History?” Carla Freccero, University of California, Santa Cruz

Respondent: Gro Ween, University of Aberdeen

11.00-11.15 Break

11.15-12.30 Short talks I:

Tone Druglitrø, University of Oslo: “Writing Radical Laboratory Animal Histories”

Michael Lundblad, University of Oslo: “Humanimal Relations in Contemporary U.S. Literature: Biopolitics and Terminal Illness in Mark Doty’s Dog Years

12.30-13.30 Lunch

13.30-15.00 Keynote 2: “Wolf, or Homo homini lupus.” Carla Freccero, University of California, Santa Cruz

Respondent: Ketil Skogen, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)

15.00-15.15 Break

15.15-16.30 Short talks II:

Jacob Bull, Uppsala University: “Meeting ticks: animal studies, ‘ethics’ and a geography of nearby”

Guro Flinterud, University of Oslo: “Animals, media and captivity. Uncovering the complexities in seemingly superficial representations”

16.30-17.00 Closing discussion/remarks


Friday 27 September

Closed paper sessions. Venue: P. A. Munch room 252



Call for papers


Beings do not preexist their relatings.



  • How have the categories of the human and the animal changed under the productive scrutiny of animal studies?
  • What lines may we draw from historical to current human-animal relationships and how they are interpreted and understood?

This international workshop seeks to reevaluate and expand our understanding of human-animal relations from a range of disciplinary angles, focusing in particular on moments and periods in history when such relations are highlighted or have undergone change.

The backdrop for this workshop is the rich, interdisciplinary work being undertaken at the moment on the categories of the human and the animal in the fields of animal studies and posthumanism. Work by scholars such as Donna Haraway, Cary Wolfe, Sarah Franklin, and Harriet Ritvo has shown that these categories are unstable, historically contingent, and dependent on particular hierarchies of creatures at particular moments in time. Relations between humans and animals have over centuries produced various understandings of what it means to be human, understandings contingent upon the continual co-production of the very categories of animal and human. In order to examine how we create and organize these categories, we must look at practices and relationships between ‘humanimals’ across time and space.

What Vanita Seth (2003) calls “the ontological privileging of the human subject” has a long tradition, grounded partly in humanism itself, and animals have arguably most often been the unprivileged counterparts. By now, questioning the species divide between humans and animals and the undercurrent of ‘speciesism’ in humanist philosophy has a rather long history in the humanities and social sciences, and this workshop intends to take these discussions further.

Anchored particularly in STS, the humanities, and social sciences, but also branching out to natural resource management, politics, and law, this workshop seeks to address several dimensions of the human-animal relationship in recent academic work. It will do so by bringing together scholars from various disciplines and research areas who work on sites of negotiation, interaction, and potential conflict in historical and current theory and practice. The workshop thus aims at facilitating productive, cross-disciplinary ways of discussing ‘humanimals’. Potential themes and questions include:

  • The many roles of animals in different time periods, for example, companion species, exhibits, weapons, test subjects, food, therapy, extensions of (N)ature or wilderness, etc.
  • Moments when the relationship between humans and other animals has undergone changes brought about by science, ideological shifts, or philosophical considerations. For example, the introduction of Descartes’ mechanistic view of the human/animal body, the establishment of zoos, modern industrial animal husbandry, advances in cloning.
  • How do animals and humans co-constitute each other, both on practical and theoretical levels? Which practices go into this mutual co-constitution? Here it is pertinent to include specific examples of animal-human relations that bring to the fore questions of what humanity and animality may signify.

The first day of the workshop will be open to the public, with two keynotes as well as contributions from a range of scholars. The second day will have closed paper sessions. We encourage PhD students and junior faculty who work on questions of human-animal relations within the humanities, social sciences, natural resource management, and related fields and disciplines to apply to present short papers on the second day. While disciplinary approaches to the material may vary, an interest in animal studies theory is crucial. All papers will be circulated beforehand in order to facilitate panel and roundtable discussions. An anthology of relevant papers coming out of the workshop is under consideration.

Key note speaker: Carla Freccero, Professor of Literature, History of Consciousness, and Feminist Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz.


Gro Ween (University of Aberdeen/University of Oslo)
Ketil Skogen (NINA)
Tone Druglitrø (University of Oslo)
Michael Lundblad (University of Oslo)
Jacob Andrew Bull (Uppsala University)
Guro Flinterud (University of Oslo).



Limited number of places. Participants will be selected based on abstract submissions. Participation is free, but travel and accommodation fees must be covered individually. The conveners will provide lunch and other refreshments.


Practical information

Deadline for abstract submission (max 300 words): 25 July, 2013 to Download the CFP as a pdf file.

Deadline for paper submission (max 2000 words, roughly equivalent to 6 double-spaced pages): 5 September, 2013.

Papers will be circulated ahead of the seminar and each panel will be appointed two discussants.


Date: 26-27 September, 2013.
Venue: Blindern campus, University of Oslo.
Thursday 26 September: P. A. Munchs hus (room 14, ground floor, enter through Niels Treschow's building). Niels Henrik Abels vei 36.
Friday 27 September: Eilert Sundt’s building, room 551. Moltke Moes vei 31.

Convener/editor: Sara Orning (TIK and KULTRANS, UiO)

The workshop is hosted by the Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture (TIK) and the research program KULTRANS at the University of Oslo.


Carla Freccero. University of California, Santa Cruz

Carla Freccero is Professor and Chair of Literature and History of Consciousness, and Professor of Feminist Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz, where she has taught since 1991. Her books include Father Figures (Cornell, 1991); Popular Culture (NYU, 1999); and Queer/Early/Modern (Duke, 2006). She co-edited Premodern Sexualities (Routledge, 1996). Her current book project, on nonhuman animals and figuration, is Animate Figures. In 2010 she won the Critical Animal Studies Faculty Paper of the Year. She recently co-edited, with Claire Jean Kim, a special issue of American Quarterly on Species, Race, Sex (American Quarterly 65.3 [2013]). Her fields include early modern European literature and history; critical theory; feminist and queer theories; popular culture and cultural studies; psychoanalysis and animal studies.


Gro Ween. University of Aberdeen/Universitetet i Oslo

Gro Ween received her D.Phil from University of Oxford in 2002. Her thesis was based upon fieldwork in the Kimberleys in Australia on topics such as Native title, Aboriginal politics, leadership and land management. Since then she has held three postdoctoral fellowships. Following the first fellowship, she worked in a temporary position an Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo for almost four years before taking on a new postdoctoral fellowship on Marianne Lien’s 'Newcomers to the Farm: Atlantic Salmon between the Wild and the Industrial'. She is currently employed as a postdoctoral fellow on David G. Anderson’s 'Arctic Domus: Emplacing Human-Animal Relationships in the Circumpolar North', where she will continue working on human-salmon relations and human-reindeer relations.


Tone Druglitrø. University of Oslo

Tone Druglitrø is a post-doctoral research fellow at Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture at the University of Oslo. Her research involves the history of science and medicine with a particular focus on the disciplines of laboratory animal science and veterinary and comparative medicine in the latter part of the 20th century. In her work, she has investigated how animals and human-animal relationships are formed at the intersections of science, technology and politics, and of particular interest have been the emerging concepts and practices of human-animal welfare. Her research is transdisciplinary and draws on science and technology studies, feminist theory, history of science and anthropology.


Michael Lundblad. University of Oslo

Michael Lundblad is Associate Professor of American Literature in the Department of Literature, Area Studies, and European Languages (ILOS) at the University of Oslo. He is the author of The Birth of a Jungle: Animality in Progressive-Era U.S. Literature and Culture, which was published this year by Oxford University Press, and the co-editor of Species Matters: Humane Advocacy and Cultural Theory, published last year by Columbia University Press.


Ketil Skogen. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)

Ketil Skogen is a sociologist and a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA). He has studied land use conflicts and in particular conflicts over large carnivores for a number of years. As a sociologist, he contends that most such controversies should also be understood as manifestations of societal tensions at a more fundamental level. They may have their roots in relations of power and resistance; fueled by friction ensuing from social and cultural change. In his view, conflicts over wolves are as much – or more – conflicts between people as they are conflicts between people and animals.


Jacob Andrew Bull. Uppsala University

Jacob is a social and cultural geographer, based at the Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University, Sweden. He has previously conducted research on cultures and practices of recreational fishing, and worked on the EU Welfare Quality Programme. More recently he has explored issues around gender and animals in Dairy farming and his current project brings animal studies perspectives to encounters with parasites. In particular it examines the various positions, roles and actions of ticks in our more-than-human worlds. Outside of the academy, Jacob shares his life with bees.


Guro Flinterud. University of Oslo

Guro Flinterud holds an interdisciplinary PhD situated within cultural history, media, folklore and animal studies. Her dissertation is a study of polar bear Knut, an animal celebrity who lived in the Berlin Zoo from 2007 to 2011. The study traces six narratives of "polar bear Knut", in different media as well as the zoo, that create widely different versions of who and what "polar bear Knut" is. The aim is to uncover complexities in representations of animals in contemporary culture, arguing that animals take part in the creation of meaning in everyday life through interaction, rather than merely being passive receptacles of human (mis-)understandings. Flinterud's work aims to bring out the tensions in contemporary practices rather than taking an explicitly critical stance.  


Sara Orning. University of Oslo (workshop organizer)

Sara Orning received her PhD from University of California, Santa Cruz, where she wrote her dissertation in the interstices between literature, critical theory, film, and history of science. In her work, she approaches the question of the animal and the human through early modern monsters and Victorian ‘freaks.’ Her focus is on the shifting boundaries between beings - and the gradual privileging of the human - with the advent of Cartesian dualism and the increasing medicalization of monstrosity.


Published May 16, 2013 08:40 AM - Last modified Oct 24, 2013 09:02 AM