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Symposium | Animal Studies Research Group


Animal Studies Research Group Symposium supported by the University of Tasmania Environment, Resources and Sustainability Research Theme

Start Date

10 Sep 2018 9:00 am

End Date

10 Sep 2018 5:00 pm


Humanities Building, Sandy Bay HUM 477a

RSVP / Contact

RSVP by August 27 for presenters and by September 3 for attendees.
Further details, enquiries, submission of abstracts and registrations:

Presentations are invited.

Registration is free for first 30 people registered and $40 for additional registrations for catering purposes. Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea is provided.

Further details, enquiries, submission of abstracts and registrations:

Guest speakers

Assoc. Prof Annie Potts. “Too Sexy For Your Meat”: Vegan Sexuality, A Decade On …

Annie Potts is Head of Cultural Studies and Co-Director of the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha/University of Canterbury in Ōtautahi/Christchurch. She is the author of Chicken (2012), co-author (with Philip Armstrong and Deidre Brown) of A New Zealand Book of Beasts: Animals in our Culture, History and Everyday Life (2013) and (with Donelle Gadenne) Animals in Emergencies: Learning from the Christchurch Earthquakes (2014) and editor of Meat Culture (2016). She is currently writing a book on the world’s possums for the Animal Publics Series published by Sydney University Press.


The terms ‘vegan sexuality’ and ‘vegansexual’ entered popular discourse ten years ago following substantial media interest in a New Zealand study on ethical consumption which noted that some vegans engaged in sexual relationships and intimate partnerships only with other vegans (Potts & White, 2007). At this time it was suggested that a spectrum existed in relation to veganism and sexual relationships: at one end of this continuum, vegan sexuality might entail an increased likelihood of sexual attraction towards those who shared similar disdain regarding the exploitation of nonhuman animals; at the other end it could manifest as a strong intimate/sexual aversion to the bodies of those who consume animals and animal products (Potts 2008). At the time the extensive media hype about vegan sexuality was predominantly negative and derogatory towards vegans and vegetarians; so too was the public response on social media, which largely consisted of disparaging rejoinders from self-identified omnivorous heterosexual men. Such a strong backlash suggested vegan sexuality disrupts the powerful cultural links between meat-eating, masculinity and virility; it also challenges a male sex drive discourse that demands women are available and willing for (hetero)sex whenever men desire this (see Potts & Parry 2010).

In this presentation I will discuss key aspects of our earlier research on mainstream responses to self-determined ethical sexuality based on the refusal of carnism. I will also introduce more recent analysis of vegans’ own responses to the idea and practice of vegan sexuality; this latter research suggests vegans are divided over the benefits of a form of sexual/intimate preference founded on ethical/dietary preference.

Dr Dinesh Wadiwel. Animal Utopias

Dinesh Wadiwel is a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney in human rights and socio-legal studies, with a background in social and political theory. He is author of the monograph The War against Animals (2015) and co-editor with Matthew Chrulew of the collection Foucault and Animals (2016). Dinesh is currently completing a book exploring the relationship between animals and capitalism. Dinesh is Convenor of the Human Animal Research Network (HARN).


In some ways, a remarkable aspect of some animal studies and posthuman scholarship is the distinctly utopian character of the political projects they propose. Classic animal rights scholarship, for example, proposes a radical restructuring of property relations involving animals, new forms of political status for animals such as citizenship rights, or completely new societies where animals are no longer subject to human domination. Some of these projects demand radical reshaping of the structure of human populations – for example, in calls to reduce human “over-population” as a response to the animal question. Posthumanist writing, while often distancing itself from radical animal rights positions, nevertheless also advances a kind of utopianism, at least in so far as there is the development of new ontologies and ethical relations that point to completely new ways of organising material and political systems, agency and responsibility. These demands for new relations between humans and non-humans are explicitly political and come attached with "manifestos" which suggest a need for urgent action (eg. Haraway's "Companion Species Manifesto" or Pepperell's "Posthuman Manifesto"). I note that at same time as these theoretical developments have been unfolding. there have been a proliferation of real life experiments at the interface between theory and practice, including the growing animal sanctuary movement and the continuing development of vegan practices and identities.

Given the general cynicism around us today and the reluctance of many academics and social commentators to advance radical proposals for social change, I would suggest this continuing utopian streak within animal studies and postumanism is a fascinating curiosity. Indeed, in so far as this work from animal studies and posthumanism advances a utopian vision, there are some strange resonances between these calls for large scale material change and older now discredited political aspirations by left social movements throughout the twentieth century to reinvent the world.

In this paper I want to focus explicitly on the possibilities for an anti-capitalist pro animal politics. I will firstly explore the reasons why we need a more developed understanding of the relationship between capitalism and animals, or precisely, the logics of value that emerge when anthroprocentricism shakes hands with capitalism. Secondly, I will explore the potentials for developing a more nuanced pro animal politics, one which might intersect with anti-capitalist movements and reinvigorate shared utopian visions for better worlds.