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IPP Workshop Series: Practicing Human-Animal Studies during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Liza Bauer)


Feb 09, 2021 from 02:00 to 04:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100)


online (Webex)

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In a recent EU webinar hosted by the campaigning group ‘Compassion in World Farming’, primatologist Jane Goodall designated the COVID-19 pandemic as a direct outcome of humankind’s disrespect for the environment and nonhuman animals. Alongside with this notorious voice in human-animal studies, scholars in the field have been examining how human-animal relations are being theorized and practiced in more and less peaceful ways, thereby attending to the multiple entanglements of more-than-human life with human societies. 

An outcome of such entanglements, COVID-19 faces these scholars with a controversial situation: Having evolved from a zoonosis (an infectious disease being transmitted from nonhuman to human animals), the global crisis calls for an increased distance between humans and nonhumans, whereas lockdowns and social distancing all over the world simultaneously bring people closer to their nonhuman companions with whom they share their homes.

This workshop seeks to provide an overview on the various ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic affects human-animal relations. In order to do so, the emergence of the virus as a zoonosis, the explosion of fake news and critical memes of the dominant narrative ‘nature is healing, we are the virus,’ and social media content on intense human-animal contact will be examined and analysed from a critical animal studies perspective. While engaging with these current and practical examples, participants will be made familiar with Giorgio Agamben’s ‘anthropological machine’ (2004) and Donna Haraway’s conception of ‘natureculture’ (2003), two central ideas in human-animal studies which frame nature/culture and human/animal binaries as socio-political constructs. The aim of the workshop is thus to provide participants with a hands-on experience of how bringing the nonhuman to the fore in cultural analyses can provide fruitful insights into socio-cultural phenomena.


This workshop will be accessible five minutes before 14:00 through the following link:


Note: The sessions of the IPP Workshop Series are open for BA, MA and PhD students and the participants do not require any previous knowledge to take part.


Suggested Bibliography (not required):

- Agamben, Giorgio. The Open: Man and Animal. transl. Kevin Attell, Dt. Erstausg., 1. Aufl. zum 40jährigen Bestehen der Ed. Suhrkamp, 4. Aufl., Stanford University Press, 2004.

- Goodall, Jane. “If We Don’t Do Things Differently, We’re Finished.” Compassion in World Farming. Webinar 02 June 2020. <


// Liza Bauer (IPP)