Animal scholars occupy Europe! A Sent. Cint. exclusive

A retriever awaits his human, outside of a pharmacy in central Prague.

Beneath the sooty spires of Prague, dogs join men and women in restaurants, birds arrive to winter on the iceless Vlatva River, and a group of scholars is meeting to ask questions that I, too, would like answered:

Left to his own devices, what kind of life might a domestic dog choose for himself?

How do people protect their psyches, in jobs that demand violence against animals?

How relevant are the differences between humans and non-humans?

Across Europe this month, experts in animal law, zooethnography, and other areas of the young field known as human-animal studies (HAS), are convening to share and build ideas.  Having recently studied human-animal relations in my own grad program, I’ve decided to come along and mull through the most useful and interesting insights I hear, for a general audience.  The language of scholars can be flummoxingly high falutin, so I want to see if I can do for these ideas what Scientific American does for astrochemistry.

I plan to write a short article here, each day for the next three weeks; to stay tuned, you can subscribe to Sentient Cincinnati (by hitting the “follow” button at the top or bottom of this page), or keep your eye on my Twitter account.

My journey begins here in Prague with perhaps the most radical wing of HAS scholars, the Institute for Critical Animal Studies (ICAS).  Many of these scholars dedicate their work to the liberation of animals from human coercion, blurring lines between scholarship and activism.  Conference organizer Tereza Vandorovcová likens the activist bent of critical animal studies, to that of gender studies:

More after tomorrow’s 23 talks and one vigil–thanks for reading!

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