This seminar aims to shed light on the relation between visibility and animal exploitation. We will discuss different forms of animal advocacy and their relation to larger society.
Non-human animal exploitation and invisibility are often thought to be interlinked: it is thought that if humans were actually compelled to bear witness to the harms done to other animals they would change their behaviour. Topographical dimensions are indeed of great importance in addressing violence towards non-human animals. Exposing hidden practices makes up a large part of animal advocacy - documenting and publishing the treatment of animals in barns and laboratories is one of the most important activist practices - and making the suffering of non-human animals public through street protests, on social media, or via independent media outlets is an important step towards social change. These actions can sometimes provoke public outrage, affect individual choices and/or influence legal or political action, but they do not always have this effect.
In this seminar we aim to shed light on the relation between visibility and animal exploitation. We discuss different forms of animal advocacy and their relation to larger society. Siobhan O'Sullivan (University of New South Wales, Sydney) will speak about animal activism as social service, arguing that this can at least partly be seen as a form of civil disobedience, which can be reasonably thought to be minimising harm and maximising joy. Alex Lockwood (University of Sunderland, UK) will discuss witnessing animal suffering and the Save Movement. Hanneke Nijland (Wageningen University) will give a talk about different clusters of reasoning that compel people to eat or give up eating animals, and how these can be used to understand different approaches to animal advocacy. The presentations will be followed by a panel discussion about the recent exposure of structural violence in slaughterhouses by the Dutch animal advocacy group Animal Rights, and the response of the larger public and government.