ASA11: Vital powers and politics: human interactions with living things

University of Wales Trinity Saint David, 13/09/2011 – 16/09/2011

(P04)

Humans/animals/crime

Location Room 4
Date and Start Time 15 Sep, 2011 at 09:00

Convenor

Claudine Young (Aberystwyth University)  email
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Short Abstract

This panel looks at the relationships between humans and animals, crime and deviance. The relationships are examined within diverse social contexts through themes of dominance and subordination, power, control and authoritarianism, nature and culture, capitalism, emotions and anthropomorphism.

Long Abstract

This interdisciplinary panel focuses upon the complex relationships between humans, animals, crime and deviance, and includes a variety of theoretical approaches and concepts taken from psychology, sociology, criminology and anthropology. Perspectives relating to both perpetrators and victims of crime are explored through diverse economic and social contexts ranging from capitalism and the farming industry to therapy or rehabilitation settings. Within the arena of crime and deviance, animals themselves can be situated in either positions of power or subordination, and even sometimes both simultaneously. This panel presents a set of papers which aims to facilitate and inspire discussion around issues of cruelty and abuse, prejudice, dominance and subordination, power and control, authoritarianism, nature and culture, animals' place in industry and capitalism, and emotions and anthropomorphism.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Images of farming and profit margins: some tentative questions about situating farm animal abuse

Author: Jane Jones (Aberystwyth University) email
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Short Abstract

This paper tentatively asks whether the symbolic imagery of farming as a traditional lifestyle and the economic reality of the industry both act to negate the lived reality of farm animal abuse.

Long Abstract

Arguably farming is an important industry for the economy as the sector directly employs 1.8 per cent of the UKs workforce and British farmers and growers produce 60 per cent of the UKs total food supplies (NFU, 2006). Farming can also be said to have an even larger presence in terms of public consciousness as exemplified by the identification of 'mad cow disease' in 1986 and the ensuing public health scandal (BBC News, 2000). And indeed, for farmers themselves, the industry can be summed up as an income achieved through intensive labour (and government subsidies). Furthermore, such labour can be symbolically bound up with ideas about naturalness and a traditional lifestyle that harks back to the Protestant ethic (Weber, 1930) where hard work was believed to be the saviour of the soul. This paper tentatively asks whether the power of such symbolic imagery and economic reality acts to negate the lived reality of farm animal abuse.

Power and prejudice in human animal relations

Authors: Gareth Norris (Aberystwyth University) email
Jane Jones (Aberystwyth University) email
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Short Abstract

This paper will examine the relationship between humans and animals as a function of 'power' and explicitly whether the concept of authoritarianism is relevent for furthering this understanding.

Long Abstract

Human animal relations are often characterised by power and control. However, these are not unique to relationship with non-animals; there is a wealth of psychological literature which has examined a range of attitudes and personalities associated with the same behaviours between humans. The well established concept of authoritarianism is one such example and this paper will report on some empirical data collected to explore this theory of human relations in the context of attitudes towards animals. The findings suggest that prejudice and control are two central features and concludes with some tentative suggestions about how to tackle these issues under the rubric of improving the treatment of animals by humans.

In between spaces: liminal zones where horses and young offenders or victims of crime meet.

Author: Claudine Young (Aberystwyth University) email
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Short Abstract

This paper examines the ethical and transformative contexts of meetings between horses and humans labelled as young offenders or victims of crime in alternative learning or therapy sessions.

Long Abstract

This paper explores the horse's position within contexts of therapy or learning and asks can the horse really assist in rehabilitating young people who offend and in helping victims of crime? Equine Assisted Therapy has recently been featured on television and in the news, such as on the BBC's programme Horsepower with Martin Clunes. In this paper I wish to explore how the relationships between therapist/facilitator, horse and subject really work outside of the space of the film set and exactly where we can situate the position of the horse in these spaces. How does the 'therapist' or 'teacher' perceive their role? Who is communicating with whom in these contexts? What can and do these spaces actually represent within the wider arena of criminal justice? Through a discussion of collected ethnographic data I rigorously interrogate traditional horse/human relationships of domination and subordination and look at some of the existing and possible future outcomes from the liminal spaces in which equine and human actors come to profound understandings about self and other.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.