Inclusivity is central to igniting positive change in Canadian society. In this session, sociological and cultural scholars from across the country present timely and progressive work that foregrounds the nonhuman animals in our society. Presentations include the therapeutic and environmental value of working with other species, the socio-political framing of animal agribusiness "gag" laws, and anti-speciesist-oriented teaching and learning in post-secondary education. Tags: Animals, Food Studies, Rural And Urban
Pamela Forgrave, Trent Univeristy
Being in nature and with nonhuman animals has proven to be effective in treating depression and mental illness. What does the therapeutic interaction do for nature and animals? Are their lives/situations improved by helping humans? Certain animals are included in the category of therapeutic animals, such as horses and dogs, while others, insects, are not. To understand this separation, I draw on Haraway’s “companion species” to argue that 'Apis mellifera', the European honey bee, is a therapeutic animal.The community of the hive is a metaphor for the connections offered by beekeeping and the facility with which bees demonstrate the interconnectedness of humans and nonhumans. I examine available reports from Hives for Humanity an organization working with homeless and addicted people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and 'Heroes to Hives', a veteran group using beekeeping for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to consider how each organization represents their relationship with bee companions. Honey bees are also key actors in the agricultural stability of Canada and the United States. While humans have always used the products of beehives, the shift to technoscience after World War II has resulted in unprecedented hive product exploitation while simultaneously distancing humans from the care practices of beekeeping and resulting in the current “damaged but managed” approach to bee management. Initiatives to protect bees and support individuals by engaging vulnerable populations in the practice of beekeeping initially appear to be positive for both human and nonhuman participants. However, remaining committed to the project of protection and connection must be able to resist the temptations offered by capitalism and consumerism.
Sarah May Lindsay, McMaster University
Critical Animal Studies (CAS) is a field concerned with speciesist attitudes and actions in society, seeking change and equality, for the emancipation of all beings. This study reports on the experiences of a Canadian graduate student teaching a graduate-level Introduction to Critical Animal Studies course at a Human-Animal Studies (HAS) college program in the United States. Textual analysis is performed on the students’ discussion posts, the main component of this online course. Noted themes are the emotional, psychological, and physical reactions to the readings and documentaries included in the class, claims of change-making or ontological shifts, and exemplary student engagement and critical thinking. These findings point to the value and challenges of including students intensely and centrally in the learning process as well as CAS in a HAS curriculum.
Tayler Zavitz, University of Victoria
This research explores the current socio-political framing of ag-gag laws in Canada, and the ways in which politicians and industry personnel justify their support of the legislation. These laws, both at the provincial and federal levels, aim to explicitly silence and criminalize animal activists who are exposing the truth about the animal agriculture industry. Building upon the current available scholarship, this paper explores the on-going rationalizations for this legislation, with a particular focus on the specific language being used by its political and industry supporters, at a time where representations of animal activists are often rife with ecoterrorist rhetoric, and how the language used perpetuates the political framing of farmers as mere victims and activists as offenders.