British Animal Studies Network Conference: Animal Borderlands

The next BASN conference on Animal Borderlands is being organised by the Oxford Animal Research Nexus team (Beth Greenhough, Reuben Message, Ally Palmer, with help from Hibba Mazhary), with support from Keble College. Due to the current situation we have moved this event online.

The three virtual sessions will take place from 3-5pm BST on the 18th of September, 25th of September, and 2nd of October. You can register on our Eventbrite page until the 16th of September. Attendance is free, but we suggest that you make a donation to your local animal charity in lieu of a registration fee.

Animal Borderlands

Borderland. n.

A district near the line separating two territories.

An area of overlap between two things.

Borderlands are places of meetings and of partings, of gatherings and divisions, as well as of edges, outsides and interiors. While dominated by a spatial imaginary, borderlands need not be limited by it: borderlands are also transitions, moments where things and phases mix, liminal states. Borderlands abut frontiers, which are often sites of persistent struggles.

Within animal studies, and amongst scholars in the social sciences and humanities who engage with the question of the animal, animal borderlands take many forms. Animals form the basis of metaphysical enquiries as to the nature and limits of the human, inspiring artistic interrogation and response; they can unsettle Western notions of nature as somehow distinct from the social, and bring into question familiar categorisations of species and spaces, domestic/wild, food/pet/pest, native/alien; they cross established political and regulatory limits in the form of invasive species and vectors of disease; they highlight but also question attributions of value, for example in the form of endangered, charismatic and keystone species; they bring into question our own value systems and the moral and ethical frameworks which underpin them; and they signal the limits of human and animal co-existence through ongoing processes of marginalisation and biodiversity loss.

In this meeting, we want to explore the many dimensions of animal borderlands, conceptually and empirically. While there is a long history of reflection on the boundary between human and animal, there are numerous other kinds of animal borderlands. We ask questions such as:

• How do animals and humans together live in, pass through, defy, shape, and constitute borders and borderlands?

• What kinds of animal borderlands are there, and what could a borderland experience be?

About this event

This meeting comprises of three sessions on three separate days.

Session 1 – ‘Living in the Borderlands’ – Friday 18th September

Session 2 – ‘Narrating, negotiating and performing border crossings’ – Friday 25th September

Plenary: Raf de Bont (University of Maastricht) – ‘Moving/Being Moved: Wildlife, Humans & Globalization’

Session 3 – ‘The human-animal interface’ – Friday 2nd October

Plenary: Marcus Coates (Visual artist) – ‘Exploring the human/animal border through art’

Papers will be pre-recorded and shared with participants in advance of the sessions. The online sessions will involve speakers giving a brief introduction to their paper followed by general discussion structured around participant questions submitted in advance. Participants will also be able tweet questions during the sessions using the hashtag #BASNBorderlands, or ask questions via the Chat function on Teams.


Friday 18th September 2020 3-5PM BST

Session 1: Living in the Borderlands

Chair: Beth Greenhough

3.00-3.05 – Chair’s introduction

3.05-3.25 – Alistair Anderson (University of Nottingham) ‘Navigating the Borderlands of Human and Companion Animal Healthcare in the Context of Antibiotic Stewardship’

3.25-3.45 – Seth Gustafson (University College London) – ‘Fishers and eels: oral history, disappearing livelihoods, and endangered species in an age of extinction’

3.45-4.05 – Erica von Essen (University of Oslo) – ‘Pig Non Grata: Understanding Biopower, Necropolitics and Securitization of Nature through the ‘War on Boars’

4.05-4.20 – Break

4.20-4.40 – Katherine Kanne (Northwestern University) – ‘Riding is a borderland’

4.40-5.00 –Jaxon Waterhouse and Chantelle Mitchell (writers and artists based in Australia) – ‘Present Absence or Absent Presence: the allegory of the Night Parrot’

5.00 - End

Friday 25th September 2020 3-5PM BST

Session 2: Narrating, negotiating and performing border crossings Chair: Reuben Message

3.00-3.05 – Chair’s introduction

3.05-3.50 – Plenary 1: Raf de Bont (University of Maastricht) – ‘Moving/Being Moved: Wildlife, Humans & Globalization’

3.50-4.00 – Break

4.00-4.20 – Anna Guasco (University of Cambridge) – ‘Terraqueous Border-‘lands’: Grey Whale Migration Along the North American Pacific Coast’

4.20-4.40 – Thomas Spencer (University of Birmingham) – ‘White Feathers on the Golden River: gyrfalcon trade and hunting diplomacies in Manchurian borderlands at the turn of the twelfth century’

4.40-5.00 – Bronwen Buckeridge (Falmouth University) – ‘Widowhood: interruptive wildness and unruly domesticity in pigeon racing system’

5.00 - End

Friday 2nd October 2020 3-5PM BST

Session 3: The human-animal interface

Chair: Alexandra Palmer

3.00-3.05 – Chair’s introduction

3.05-3.50 – Plenary 2: Marcus Coates (Visual artist) – ‘Exploring the human/animal border through art’

3.50-4.00 – Break

4.00-4.20 – Ben Farrar (University of Cambridge) – ‘Statistical smokescreens and storytelling: What can scientists tell us about the mental lives of animals?’

4.20-4.40 – Karen Jones (University of Kent) – ‘Science Communication and the Call of the Wild: Wolf Howls and the Sonic Boundaries of Conservation in Algonquin Provincial Park’

4.40-5.00 – Anindya Sinha (National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore) – ‘Reaching Out: Interspecies Communication in a Synurbising Forest of Southern India’

5.00 - End


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