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Animal Studies Research Group

The development of Animal Studies provides a network for scholars working on related themes at the University of Tasmania, while also exploiting the growing prominence of this field nationally and internationally, providing significant opportunities for local, national and international research collaborations.

Since the publishing of Peter Singer’s seminal text, Animal Liberation, in 1975 Australia has played a significant role in the development of Animal Studies as an international field of enquiry, and continues to do so. Researchers from the University of Tasmania have been active in the contemporary development of Animal Studies, convening the second Australian Animal Studies conference, Considering Animals in 2007, and publishing widely in the field. The field is rapidly growing, reflecting a radical rethinking of the nature of human-animal relations and its consequences for animal wellbeing, empathy and ethical relations, species extinction, sustainability and climate change.

Images Credit: Dr Yvette Watt, Banner: Domestic Animals (scholarly explanation), 2008, giclee print and ink on paper, 80 x 130cm

Contact | Group Leader

Yvette.Watt@utas.edu.au

Alignment with CALE Research

Our Research Group

Rachel Bailey

Geography. Aidan Davison is an Associate Professor of human geography. He is interested in nondualistic understandings of the interplay of culture and nature, especially as they are embodied in human-animal and human-plant relationships. He as published widely on the socio-ecology of the urban forest and has researched been involved in a project exploring human-horse relationships in Australian thoroughbred racing.

History.

English. Dr Carol Freeman has a long association with the University of Tasmania and is currently an Adjunct Researcher in the School of Humanities. She has been awarded prizes in English and History and a University Medal. She was involved in the formation and development of the field of Animal Studies as a founding member, committee member and conference organiser for the Australian Animal Studies Group (now the Australasian Animal Studies Association). She was editor of the internationally distributed Australian Animal Studies News Bulletin from 2008-2013. Carol's research has focused on representations of animals in literature, film, popular culture and wildlife documentaries, where she has sought to bridge the gap between scientific approaches to animals and new research in the humanities and social sciences that emphasises human-animal relations.

Law. Dr Meg Good is an Adjunct Lecturer with the School of Law at the University of Tasmania. Meg holds a BA LLB (First Class Hons in Law) and PhD from UTAS. She currently works at Voiceless, the animal protection institute, and holds voluntary positions as the Tasmanian Co-ordinator of the Barristers Animal Welfare Panel (former National Co-ordinator), the Director of Education at the Animal Law Institute, and the Chief Editor of the Australian Animal Protection Law Journal. She created and co-ordinated Tasmania's first animal law conference in 2013, and was the inaugural recipient of the RSPCA Australia Sybil Emslie Animal Law Scholarship in 2016. She has guest lectured in animal law at various universities (including Latrobe University and the University of Melbourne), and will be co-ordinating the 2017 'Animal Law' unit at UTAS in Second Semester 2017. Whilst most of her research to date is in the field of environmental law and environmental human rights, she is currently in the process of co-authoring a national animal law text.

Criminology. Criminology and related justice studies examine a variety of issues pertaining to animals through various theoretical lens. Prof Rob White's work covers threats and risks to animals (including animal abuse, destruction of habitat, and the illegal wildlife trade), conceptions of justice (including environmental, ecological and species), and ecocentrism in practice (issues include determining harm and the severity of that harm to non-human entities and establishing who is best to 'speak for' and 'speak about' these voiceless entities).

Dr Svenja Kratz

Art.

English. I work at the border of English and Antarctic studies, and often bring Animal Studies into this mix. I have written, among other things, about the politics of penguin films, huskies in Antarctic cinema, the consumption of dogs during the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, the charisma of krill, and animals in travel writing. I am a co-editor of the collection Considering Animals (Ashgate 2011), and have published relevant articles in Anthrozoos, Australian Humanities Review, and the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, and book chapters in Cinematic Canines, Screening Nature, and Engaging with Animals, and the Routledge Research Companion to Travel Writing.

Hanne Nielsen

Humanities.

Asian Studies. Kaz is a China expert and an Asian Studies scholar with a range of interests centred around affect, politics, and history. Since 2015 she has been the co-creator at Hobart's Winter festival Dark MOFO of the ogoh-ogoh project, a Balinese inspired ritual involving a communal expression of fear, longing, regret, and sorrow through the making, processing, and burning of a large papier-mâché animal effigy. By choosing an endangered or extinct Tasmanian animal as the creature to be burned, the ogoh-ogoh project explicitly connects the fragile and local natural world with the fear-inducing and overwhelming global 'premise/promise' of the Anthropocene – climate change and species extinction. Through both research and practice, Kaz's work explores the importance of localised rituals for effective engagement with the affective dimensions of the Anthropocene.

Assoc Prof Katrina Schlunke

Humanities.

John Simons

History. Prof John Simons is a freelance writer and consultant who lives in Hobart. He spent most of his career in universities in England and Australia and most recently was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at Macquarie University. He has written or edited some 20 academic books and numerous articles on topics ranging from medieval romance through Andy Warhol to the history of cricket and for the past 20 years he has specialised in the history of human-animal relations and, especially, the display of exotic animals in Victorian England. He is currently writing 'Obaysch' a biography of a hippo that lived in London Zoo in the mid nineteenth century. He is a published poet and his cantata Bestiale has been performed twice at Arts festivals in the U.K. He has recently finished his first novel which is called 'The Penguin Digester'. He also makes ice cream, pickles and jams and is developing an interest (but not much skill at this point) in Japanese Saori weaving. Main animal studies publications include: Animal Rights and the Politics of Representation (Palgrave, 2002), Rossetti's Wombat (Middlesex UP, 2008), The Tiger that Swallowed the Boy (Libri, 2013), Kangaroo (Reaktion, 2103), Obaysch: a Hippopotamus in Victorian London (forthcoming, Sydney U P). John has numerous articles and book chapters on speciesism, swans in medieval England, medieval pet keeping, the history and politics of vegetarianism, talking animals, the exotic animal trade as an aspect of colonial competition between Britain and Germany, lions in the French Revolution, animals and soft power. In progress is an article on the Victorian craze for seashell collecting.

English. Dr Hannah Stark takes an intersectional approach to animal studies and is particularly interested in the representation of extinction in the Anthropocene. She is currently working on a project with Penny Edmonds and Katrina Schlunke called “Extinction Afterlives and the Global Thylacine Trade: Specular Commerce and Emotions in the Era of Species Mass-Extinction”.

White dog lying on ground

Art. Dr Yvette Watt is a Lecturer and Studio Coordinator of Painting at the Tasmanian College of the Arts, University of Tasmania. She is Lead Researcher of the College of Arts and Law Animal Studies Theme Area (ASTA) and Co-Director of MERG. Watt was a founding member of the Australasian Animal Studies Association and is a current committee member of Minding Animals International, and Minding Animals Australia. Watt's art practice spans 30 years and includes numerous solo and group exhibitions. She has been actively involved in animal advocacy since the mid 1980s, and her artwork is heavily informed by her activism. She is a founder of Animal Rights Advocates (WA) and Animals Tasmania, and was a long term member of the Animals Australia executive. Her work is held in numerous public and private collections in Australia including Parliament House, Canberra, Artbank and the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Watt is a co-editor of and contributor to Considering Animals: Contemporary Studies in Human-Animal Relations (Ashgate, 2011). Other publications include 'Down on the Farm: Why do Artists Avoid Farm Animals as Subject Matter?”, in Meat Cultures, Annie Potts (ed), Brill (2016), 'Animal Factories: Exposing Sites of Capture', in Captured: Animals Within Culture, Melissa Boyd, ed, (Palgrave McMillan, 2014) and 'Artists, Animals and Ethics', in Antennae: the journal of nature in culture, (issue 19, Winter 2011). Watt was commissioned to contribute an entry on 'Animals Art and Ethics' for the Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, (Marc Bekoff ed., Greenwood Press, 2010).

News and Events

Animal Studies

24 January 2020 | 12:00pm - 2:00pm
25 January | 3:00pm - 5:00pm

OktoLab19 school holiday program

Focus activity 1: Make experimental art pieces

Inspired by the OktoLab artists’ works, participants are invited to explore their creativity to make their own experimental art pieces, making and working with a colour palette derived from scavenged and foraged inks.

This School holiday program offers young people the opportunity to explore ideas in a series of collaborative, multi-art form workshops responding to the exhibition, OktoLab19. This workshop series is a creative studio aimed at providing young artists (8 - 12 years).

FREE (bookings essential due to limited spaces)


Image: Neozoon, Cephalization, 2019-20

Animal Studies

24 January 2020 | 3:00pm - 5:00pm
25 January | 12:00pm - 2:00pm

OktoLab19 school holiday program

Focus activity 2: Colour, camouflage and adaptability

In this workshop we will think through colour, camouflage and adaptability as forms of communication, recognising the distinction between human and octopuses, between blending in and being seen.

This School holiday program offers young people the opportunity to explore ideas in a series of collaborative, multi-art form workshops responding to the exhibition, OktoLab19. This workshop series is a creative studio aimed at providing young artists (8 - 12 years).

FREE (bookings essential due to limited spaces)


Image: Neozoon, Cephalization, 2019-20

Animal Studies

11 January 2020

Symposium | OctoLab19

OktoLab19 brings together artists, writers and scientists to investigate octopuses in all their extraordinary glory. The exhibition aims is to contribute new ways of understanding and conceptualizing octopuses, in respect to their being-in-the-world and our perception of them, as well as re-evaluating the rich cultural history of the octopus. The responses to this curatorial brief by OktoLab19 participants are as complex, fascinating, diverse and wonderful as the eight-armed animals that have been their inspiration. This all day symposium of artist talks, readings, and presentations brings together artists, scientists and scholars to talk all things octopus.

Animal Studies

13 December 2019 – 25 January 2020

Exhibition | OktoLab19: A gallery of octopus aesthetics

OktoLab19 brings together artists, writers and scientists to investigate octopuses in all their extraordinary glory. The exhibition aims is to contribute new ways of understanding and conceptualizing octopuses, in respect to their being-in-the-world and our perception of them, as well as re-evaluating the rich cultural history of the octopus. The responses to this curatorial brief by OktoLab19 participants are as complex, fascinating, diverse and wonderful as the eight-armed animals that have been their inspiration.
Image: mOwson&M0wson, feeler, 2019

Animal Studies

27 April 2020

Research | Honouring the extinct, one thylacine at a time

The thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) might be extinct, but at least 764 specimens still exist in museums and collections around the world. Through an exploration of the lives, deaths and afterlife as museum specimens of individual thylacines, a new project at the University of Tasmania will make one of our most iconic extinct animals more publicly visible. It also aims to help protect other species from extinction by helping us to mourn the thylacine properly.

Available Research Degree Projects

Animals and Society
Closing date: 31 October 2020

For a full list of current University projects, see the Research Division – Available Research Degree Projects.