Kittens and Cows:
(Critical) Animal Studies
«Crossing borders or the ends of man I come or surrender to the animal»
Jacques Derrida
Format: online (April 18th-20th) and on Shaninka campus (April 21st)
Language: Russian, English
Moderators: Mark Mefed (graduate of MSSES (Shaninka), independent researcher), Iana Fishova (Friedrich Schiller University Jena, independent researcher)


Animal studies is an interdisciplinary field based on scholarship in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, emphasizing the study of past and present relationships between humans and nonhuman animals, the representation of those relationships, their ethical implications, and their social, political, and ecological aspects. The field congregates critical views on animal exploitation, human-animal relationships, an intersectional approach to animal rights and ethics issues, analysis of speciesism and anthropocentrism in human cultures, politics, philosophy, literature, education, posthuman and vegan studies. Researchers may ethically investigate animals, directly observing and interacting with them to study their behavior, emotional experiences, consciousness, and communication practices. Additionally, they can be examined indirectly by analyzing representations of animal life in diverse mediums like art, literature, religious texts, national legislation concerning animals, and the portrayal of pets across social media platforms.
The concept and the distinction of ‘animal’ as opposed to ‘human’ is meaningful in many aspects. Membership in the moral and political community depends on where that line of distinction is drawn, which in turn serves as the basis for discriminatory practices against various groups such as children, women, people with disabilities, refugees, ethnic and other minorities. Predominant philosophical, political, and religious institutions deeming these groups as possessing ‘animal’ qualities culminates in them suffering varying degrees of exclusion (and thus being treated as so-called ‘others’), which allows for discrimination and disregard of their agency. Critical animal studies aim to reflect on the reduction of humans to animals, while not only highlighting and emphasizing excluded groups and nonhuman animals but also attempting to radically change power institutions.
At the same time, non-human animal agency consistently manifests itself. As such, animals do not passively exist within the boundaries defined by humans but respond and resist this unbalanced power relationship. Additionally, animals have complex forms of communication, diverse ways of being, and sentient experiences. Therefore animals are important not solely as theoretical figures; they are also significant as living beings of flesh and blood that compel us to reassess our everyday lives.
The main question that our section poses is, ‘How should we address the existence of non-human animals within our theoretical paradigms and reality?’ We will delve into the examination of tangible and symbolic animals, inspect the potential for a multispecies democracy within capitalism, consider the contributions of posthumanism and continental philosophy to animal rights and well-being, analyze how cultural depictions of animals mirror human concerns and values, and assess how the field of vegan studies can critically enhance and broaden our understanding of animal studies.
The section’s Telegram channel: Kittens and Cows: (Critical) Animal Studies

Main topics

  • Critical Animal Studies
  • Animal Philosophy
  • Animal Ethics and Animal Rights
  • Posthumanism
  • Multispecies Democracy
  • Vegan Studies
  • Animals in Anthropology
  • Animals and Capitalism
Keynote speakers
  1. Núria Almiron, Tenured professor in the Department of Communication at Pompeu Fabra University, co-director UPF-Centre for Animal Ethics, Spain. Topic: «Animal Suffering and Public Relations».
  2. Zipporah Weisberg, Assistant Professor of Critical Animal Studies in the Department of Sociology at Brock University and a Guest Researcher at The Messerli Research Institute in Vienna, Austria. Topic: «Left Humanism beyond the Human: From Marx to Merleau-Ponty».
  3. Eva Meijer, Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam. Topic: «Multispecies Assemblies».
  4. Katya Krylova, PhD student, University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Topic: «Perfectly Imperfect: The Cultural Significance of the 'Freak Circus' on Social Media».
  5. Oxana Timofeeva, philosopher, author of the books “History of Animals” (2018), “Introduction to the Erotic Philosophy of Georges Bataille” (2009), “Homeland” (2020), “This Is Not That” (2022), “Solar Politics” (2022). The book "Boys, you are animals" is being prepared for publication. "The Totemic Moment: On the Case of the Wolf Man".
  6. John Sanbonmatsu, Associate Professor, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA. Topic: «Rethinking Totality and Totalitarianism in Human Domination».
  7. Vasile Stănescu, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Mercer University, USA. Topic: «A Bunch of Baloney: Greenwashing by Animal Agriculture».
  8. Oksana Moroz, associate Professor at the Higher School of Economics, academic director of the master's program "Curator Practices in Contemporary Art" at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Research University Higher School of Economics. Topic: “Such different speciesism: strategies for online representation of animals”.
  9. Amber E. George, executive Director of Finance at the Institute for Critical Animal Studies. Amber is an educator, social justice advocate, and artist currently teaching courses in ethical and social philosophy at SUNY Cortland, Le Moyne College and Misericordia University. Topic: “Intersectionality of Critical Animal Studies”.
  10. Anthony J. Nocella II is co-founder of the fields of critical animal studies and radical animal studies, co-founder of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology in the Institute of Public Safety at Salt Lake Community College. Topic: “Scholar-activism in Critical Animal Studies”.
  11. Laura Schleifer is Conference Director of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, Program Chair at Promoting Enduring Peace and co-founder of Plant the Land which is a Palestinian-led vegan food justice/community projects mutual aid team in Gaza. Topic: «Total Liberation».

Sign in

Перейти к заказу билетов
Газетный пер., 3/5с1, Москва
Made on