Archiv für den Monat November 2012

Call for Articles: Foucault’s Animals

Call for Articles:

Special Issue of „Animal Studies. Rivista italiana di antispecismo“ dedicated to “Foucault’s Animals”

Possible topics: Biopolitics, Animal, Animalization, Animality, Foucault, Human/Nonhuman divide, Governmentality, Zoopolitics.

Deadline for pre-review: December 15, 2012. Deadline for final submission: April 15, 2013.

The role that animals play in the formation of disciplinary knowledge has never held particular importance in the course of Michel Foucault’s articulated research. This “oversight” could partially be due to chronological reasons: the passing of Foucault came in the very years that the so-called “animal question” began to emerge.

Nonetheless, reflections on the animal run throughout Foucault’s major texts, though sometimes in discreet or underlying ways. It cannot be a coincidence that the most interesting works on forms of non-human life from the last 20 years were put forth by thinkers who, for various reasons, were comfronting Foucault’s legacy. One needs only think of „The Open“ by Giorgio Agamben and Jacques Derrida’s „The Animal That Therefore I Am“ and „The Beast and the Sovereign,“ as well as the seminal „Bubbles“ and “Rules for the Human Zoo” by Peter Sloterdijk – all texts that are enjoying a great deal of fortune within the field of animal studies.

Animals conceal their tracks in different places throughout Foucault’s works, and, though discreet, the passages are always extremely meaningful: in „The Order of Things,“ animals share a destiny of confinement with the subjects of psychiatric power and carry out a central role in the Foucauldian genealogy of the rational subject. Throughout „The Abnormals“ one can retrace important analyses of the changes in relations between men and animals between the medieval ages and modernity, as if the modifications in such relations could provide a key to accessing different governmental paradigms which characterized these two historical eras. Elsewhere, Foucault concludes that disciplinary knowledge could have never been established without experimentation on the bodies of animals in the laboratory. And what are the three volumes of The History of Sexuality if not a reconstruction of the increasingly thorough hunt for the “bestiality” of pleasures? How could one not compare the concept of “biopolitics” – by now a “floating signifier” in contemporary political thought – with the animalization of man Foucault introduces in „Biopolitics and Liberalism“? After all, the paradigm of power from which biopolitics originates is pastoral power, and here we find yet another confirmation that the government of men and the domestication of animals are part of a same history. It is in light of this conclusion that the concept of zoopolitics is acquiring an ever-growing importance.

Animal rights, environmental legislation, the establishment of scientific knowledge, the subjugation of bodies, human/non-human divide, the governing of the living. The intention of this volume of „Animal Studies“ dedicated to Foucault’s animals is to lay out the implicit tensions in the Foucaldian corpus, with the aim to provide all those who act in the name of anti-speciesism further occasions for debate and research.

Potential contributors are encouraged to submit an essay proposal to the journal editors ( by 15 December, 2012. Final papers must not exceed 8000 words in total (including all references and notes) and shout be submitted by 15 April, 2013.

Workshop on Animal Pain, York University in Toronto (11. Januar 2013)

Whether any nonhuman animal experiences pain or has experiences similar to humans is highly controversial. This conference will bring together psychologists and philosophers interested in pain and conscious experience in animals, particularly mammals. Most of the arguments presented in favor of phenomenal pain experience in mammals are arguments from analogy: they emphasize the similarity between the behavior, neural activations, and nociception in humans and other mammals, and even present evolutionary suggestions for the connection between social cognition and pain processes. Those skeptical of analogical arguments typically stress the differences between other mammals and humans. These views are sometimes presented at the neurophysiological level, but are more often aimed at higher cognitive levels of analysis, and the arguments challenge the existence of certain cognitive abilities in animals which are seen as necessary for experiencing pain; classical candidates are self consciousness, the ability for language, empathy, and “theory of mind”. Another group of skeptics argue that the question of conscious pain in non-human animals cannot, in principle, be accessed empirically, because no methodology is available to approach it. This interdisciplinary workshop investigates these issues and the possibilities of overcoming thorny methodological problems in studying animal pain and consciousness.

Please note: The capacity of the workshop is limited to 35 participants. Priority will therefore be given to those who are actively involved in relevant research and who will present a poster. Details on poster submission can be found below.
Colin Allen (Department of Philosophy, University of Indiana)
Kristin Andrews (Department of Philosophy, York University)
Verena Gottschling (Department of Philosophy, York University)
Suzanne McDonald (Department of Psychology, York University)
Anne Russon (Department of Psychology, York University, Glendon)
Adam Shriver (The Rotman Institute of Philosophy, University of Western Ontario)

Registration/Poster submission: If you would like to present a poster at the workshop please submit a short abstract of no more then 500 words to Verena Gottschling ( by Dec 10, 2012. If you would like to attend the workshop without presenting a poster please send an e-mail to the above address, indicating how your research is relevant to the topic of the workshop. Successful applicants will be sent an invitation to attend by December 18, 2012 for poster presenters. There will be no conference fee and all participants will be invited to the conference reception on January 11th.

Organization: Verena Gottschling. The meeting is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation as part of a network grant from the European Platform for Life Sciences, Mind Sciences, and the Humanities, and the Department of Philosophy at York University