CHID program director María Elena García and affiliate faculty member Louisa Mackenzie have been awarded a Collaboration Studio Grant (2015-16) by the UW’s Simpson Center for the Humanities. These grants support collaborative work between faculty, often from diverse academic backgrounds, as they catalyze, deepen, or reconfigure cross-disciplinary research and work toward publication.
García, an anthropologist working with indigenous South American archives, and Mackenzie, whose background is in French Renaissance literature, will be furthering the already-vibrant dialogue at the UW around what they are calling intersectional animal studies.
Animal Studies, which opens up traditionally human-centered areas of study (e.g. the humanities and social sciences) to a multispecies lens, is an active field at the UW, with new working groups, research clusters, and classes (many of them in CHID) every year. One quality of Animal Studies at the UW which particularly compels García and Mackenzie, and which will be the focus of their collaboration, is its attention to the ways in which human and animal sufferings intersect. These are not necessarily easy conversations to have: how can we claim that non-human lives are lives that matter, without dismissing or appropriating the struggles of humans who are still often not seen as full subjects? Can Animal Studies be intersectional, that is, can it center the ways in which different forms of human and animal oppressions both intersect and--just as importantly--diverge? How do we hold these multiple stories and truths simultaneously?
García and other scholars at the UW have already produced work that articulates human structural oppressions with questions about species differentiation. This collaboration will seek to explicitly create more space for these necessary conversations. As García and Mackenzie work together to further intersectionality as a method for Animal Studies, their goals are twofold. First, they have been struck by how much of the momentum for Animal Studies on campus has come from students, and they hope to formalize some kind of interdisciplinary Animal Studies module for students that very intentionally articulates with other critical area studies such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and race. Second, they will be working towards a co-authored publication that puts their two disciplines--anthropology and literary-cultural studies--in dialogue around intersectional Animal Studies. A description of the project can be found on the Simpson Center’s website.
The project also has a Twitter handle, @IntersectAnimal, which will be used for updates as well as to promote interesting intersectional work on Animal Studies by other scholars.