International conference ANIMALS AND THEIR PEOPLE

Conference partners are:
Le Centre de civilisation française et d’études francophones (CCFEF) de l’Universit&...

Ecce Animalia

During the third day of the conference will be held an optional excursion to the Museum of Contemporary Sculpture in Oronsko to visit the exhibition:

Ecce Animalia

Museum of Contemporary Sculpture, Centre of Polish Sculpture in Oronsko
8th  March – 15th June 201...


Abstracts of the conference (from PR to Ż)

PRĘGOWSKI Michał - „All the world and a little bit more”. Pet gravestones as a source of information about contemporary canine-human relationships.

In modern Western societies, the key role a dog plays is that of a companion (Archer, 1997; Sanders 1999). Growing number of people defines their canines as family members (Beck and Katcher 1983; Sanders 1999); they play with dogs as they do with children (Serpell 1989) and talk to them (Mitchell and Edmonson 1999; Mitchell 2001; Konecki 2005). Dogs are also included in social customs and rituals, such as e.g. celebrating birthdays and holidays. Ceremonial burial is one of the most significant social rituals that sometimes includes companion animals, especially dogs.
For a sociologist, anthropologist or ethnologist, cemeteries for nonhumans are a very interesting source of information – about people and cultural changes. The sheer existence of such cemeteries is a testament to the significance of the interspecies bond between people and their canines. A deeper look into analyzing how the graves are set, what their surroundings are like, what objects commemorate the dead, and – last but not least – what inscriptions are written on the tombstones, allows insight into a very private, intimate world people share with their dogs. Such bond is multidimensional: on one hand individual and undoubtedly unique, on the other – clearly recurrent, lived by canine lovers around the world. Dogs can be commemorated in many ways: as representatives of their breeds, as beloved friends, but also as members of families. One can highlight key virtues of the deceased, compose a poem in his/her honor, or focus on expressing own grief and longing t the world. Last farewells can also be an expression of faith in canine immortality and inevitable reunion.
This presentation discusses author’s research on tombstones from “Psi los”, the oldest and largest pet cemetery in Poland, located in Konik Nowy. The analysis also highlights the most important similarities and differences in terms of pet burial customs between Poland and the United States, home to Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, founded in 1896 and deemed the oldest modern pet cemetery in the world.

QUINKENSTEIN Małgorzata - The Holocaust has never ende – The symbolism of the group's activities 269life - opponents of the industrial killing of animals

The group was formed a few years ago in Israel on the initiative of Sasha Bojoor, 27 year old activist associated with the vegans- and vegetarians movement. The name comes from a number of calves destined for slaughter.
Group uses international pop culture associated with the Shoa and the Jews in order to transfer the sensitivity of line man-man to man-animal and its focus on the issues of life. Performances of 269life groups are well planned, refer to the traditions of iconography and symbolism of the Shoa/Holocaust. Since 21.03.2013, the international campaign Flesh Branding, group 269life became recognizable in many places of the world. Their appeal to the Torah as one of the foundations of contemporary culture, define vegetarianism as the quest for freedom and paradise.  „The animal holocaust is ever-expanding. Veganism  is an essential step that any responsible and sensible person must take. The options to incorporate it are limitless and creativity and imagination are key assets in this war of liberation.“ (website of 269life)

RATTASEPP Silver - The Fall of Man and the Rise of Squid: A Fable

The absence of animals from most philosophical discourse is striking. They appear only in those brief moments in which they are judged as lacking something uniquely human and are therefore judged to be irrelevant for philosophical discourse. They are included in order to be excluded. This, however, is not merely due to the prevalence of human exceptionalism and the drawing of demarcation lines, “abysses” that are purported to uphold the purity of the figure of Man. There is yet another reason: the reduction of knowledge to discourse on human access to the objects of knowledge. It is expected that to talk about animals is to talk about human representations of animals.
    Yet the most famous prophecy in Western philosophy begins with animals, and culminates at the disappearance of Man. It is precisely this Man the empirico-transcendental doublet, who finds from himself knowledge that makes knowledge possible, the one who thinks only about himself whenever he thinks, that is destined to fall.
    It is now long past the time to pick up another line of thought, one that would think the animal gaze that falls upon philosophers and assess them. For this reason, the presentation will provide one philosophical fable about the rise of the Squid from the dark depths of the ocean, who will analyse “man” as it appears to the philosophical eyes and tentacles of a cephalopod.

ROGOWSKA-STANGRET Monika - Bodily Encounters with the Animal.
The Dog and His/Her Human – Who Are They?

In my presentation I would like to dwell on the possibility of the encounter between human and animal. What makes this meeting possible? What overcomes the well-known gap between animal and human, which was exhaustively described in western culture and philosophy?
By offering the category of „bodily encounters with the animal” I am aiming at underlining the role of the body as a space that enables the mentioned meeting. That is why I will try to elaborate on the question concerning the notion of the body involved here, what is its nature, how come it creates the common ground for various living beings, for that, which is alive? There might be several answers to those questions: the difference that marks the body, the body’s flexibility and changeability or its vulnerability to feeling? To conceptualize the above-mentioned issues I would use theories by Luce Irigaray, Elizabeth Grosz, Jacques Derrida and Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. I want to analyse the category of bodily encounters with the animal with reference to specific examples of dog-human relation (here the descriptions by Donna Haraway or Marjorie Garber would be of great importance). Dog-human relation is a special one, it has a long, well-documented history, it highlights the flexibility of the boundaries of our worlds, it points at the possibility of transgressing them and establishing anew, of bending them and omitting them. This may serve as a vantage point for the perspective of broader changes, the ethico-political aspects of which I would like to introduce in my presentation.

RUDKOWSKA Magdalena - The last of the fairy tales: romantic illusion of the human-animal bond and its collapse

My interest focuses on the concepts of animal-human community and its decomposition, as an experience stigmatising the nineteenth-century civilisation – as reflected in Polish texts of the Romanticist age. The starting point for my considerations are transformations of Polish animal fable, which in Polish Romanticism becomes the space of a new sensitivity that focuses around the issues of wrongdoing done to animals, their autonomy against humans, and the boundaries of communication between humans and animals. In my analysis of these issues, I propose a reading of certain forgotten cultural texts of Polish Romanticism, such as e.g. Cyprian K. Norwid’s Ostatnia z bajek; Placyd Jankowski’s Rzeźnik i woły, Wierzę i nie wierzę; Lucjan Siemieński’s, Beduin i wąż; animal fables of late-stage Aleksander Fredro (Brytan-Bryś) – in the context of atrophy of traditional ideas related to the roles of humans and animals, demythologisation of the fable tropes and re-mythologisation (the case of Norwid) of the mysterious animal-human community whose decomposition influences the habitus of the nineteenth-century man. The Polish Romanticist texts presented anticipate a breakthrough in the thinking about animals that took place in the 19th century. In parallel, they incessantly enter a dialogue with the European animalistic thought – an aspect also covered in my presentation.

RUTKOWSKA Małgorzata - In Search of a Common Language: Interspecies Communication in Contemporary American Pet Memoirs
The purpose of the present article is to analyze the question of inter-species communication as presented in contemporary American pet memoirs: Mark Doty’s Dog Years (2008); Ted Kerasote’s Merle’s Door (2007); Stacey O’Brian’s Wesley the Owl (2010); Joanna Burger’s The Parrot Who Owns Me (2001) and Abigail Thomas’ A Three Dog Life (2007). Pet memoirs, which focus on human-animal relationship, have recently become a popular subgenre in American autobiographical writing. In these narratives of shared lives, the authors often compare themselves to interpreters whose role is to translate into words the workings of the animal mind. The lack of a common language is not an obstacle in communication with other species and, paradoxically, animal companions are often valued for their muteness.  Verbal communication is important in developing a bond with a companion animal (naming, training, speaking to or “for” a pet) but essential non-verbal messages are conveyed through the body (touching, preening, gesture, gaze). Interacting with pets is based on “kinesthetic empathy” (Shapiro 2008), which means that the owners need to observe and learn how to interpret animal bodily experiences, behavior and vocalizations and that the animals behave in an analogical way. Thanks to pet “teachers” human “pupils” realize their kinship with dogs or birds manifested, for example, in similar social skills and complex emotions. The experience of effective inter-species communication not based on a symbolic language leads the authors to the questioning of anthropocentrism and logocentrism, and makes them wish for unmediated, embodied experience of the world enjoyed by the animals.

RZĄDECZKO Justyna - Moral schizophrenia. Status of a non-human animal in the peasant literature based on Wiesław Myśliwski’s Widnokrąg

The starting point of this paper is the assumption that peasant prose tends to present particularly vivid descriptions of relationship between a man and a non-human animal. Due to the placement of the action in a rural world dominated by a traditional anthropocentric discourse, Widnokrąg can be read as a text that reflects human belief of his superiority over other animals. The paper analyzes examples of discourse which objectify animals, what is expressed primarily in the treatment of them as impersonal sources of food, leather and fur. Attentive reading of the novel, however, provides examples of a completely different approach to the issue of the status of animals. A chapter devoted almost entirely to a dog named Kruczek shows a phenomenon of moral schizophrenia mentioned by Gary L. Francione. The main character of the novel describes totality of Kruczek’s roles as an indefinite zone reserved for a dog only. A man’s attitude to a dog is completely different from his view on the status of other animals living in the same rural area. It is expressed by granting the canine hero a right to look, which is understood as act of constructing his own subjectivity in relation to the object of watching. Also, the analysis of Myśliwski’s novel makes use of theories, developed by philosophers and ethicists, such as the concept of speciesism. The paper is inspired by Tom Regan’s concept of equal moral status of all beings. The work aims to show how the peasant literature reflects the actual attitude of the traditionally thinking man towards the issue of the status of the animals. In addition, the paper exposes the discriminatory nature of the discourse that grants different animals different rights.


 The late years of the Jacques Derrida’s activity abound in works in which with particular intensity was emphasized ethical dimensions of the thought of philosopher. Among them appeared the question of the animal and meaning of animality which is constructed by philosophical tradition. This problem has become the main theme of the philosopher’s last works (published posthumously) such as L’animal que donc je suis or (consequence of the last Derrida’s seminar) La bête et le souverain. In my lecture I would like to analyse “animal” threads of Derrida’s thought, showing in which way deconstruction as an “affirmative ethical gesture” becomes an instrument which dismantles the edifice of philosophy (in the metaphysical sense of the word) and – in consequence – the anthropocentrism i.e. element founding and decisive for foregoing philosophy. Derrida recognizes in the philosophy the practice which, by constructing the category of what is “proper to mankind”, arbitrarily attributes to human being a number of properties (reason, ability to speak or cry etc.), simultaneously refusing it animals. On the base of this act of refusal, philosophy constructs immediately (phantasmatic) right to human mastery over animals and to dispose of their existence.
The philosopher shows that the first act of violence against non-human beings is the very category of “animal”. This concept legitimates humanity to ignore differences between individual, animal beings and to close their singularity or peculiarity within the uniform and general formula. As Derrida underscores, this founding for status of “human being” operation was constituting also the instrument of repression against animals and was serving in fact to maintain the mastery of human being over all creatures.
However, the supreme act of violence was, as it Derrida emphasizes, refusal of reason, and in consequence (in post-cartesian tradition), reducing animals to the machine. Against this tradition, Derrida postulates transformation of fundamental question about the status of animality: not “do they have a reason?” but “can they suffer?” (origins of this new paradigm of capturing the animality he finds for example in works of Montaigne and Berkeley). Derrida’s consideration serves here to dismantle foregoing hegemonic anthropocentrism and contraposes to the question about attribution of features („do they have a reason?”), a question strictly ethical which constitutes in fact ethical imperative of siding with animals. In this way, deconstruction would become an act of justice which stands up for oppressed and suffering animals (to that effect, against the reason of reason stands here a reason of sensitivity which rejects the temptation of mastery over animal). The author of Specters of Marx sides with non-human which for centuries was not only exorcised by philosophy but also oppressed and harmed.
I will pursue the research, centering on the problem of animal’s gaze and the figures of the beast and the sovereign which Derrida was utilizing during his last seminar. Subtle and full of empathy Derrida’s analysis of the status of the animal in history of philosophy, reveals unequivocally ethical but still insufficient identified dimension of deconstruction.

SCHOLLENBERGER Justyna - Sympathy beyond the confines of man… - Charles Darwin and Human-Animal Practices of Everyday Life

In my paper I would like to concentrate on the problem of representation of human-animal relations in the works of Charles Darwin.  My main aim is to find in those writings an intersection of two paradigms: humanist and post-humanist. In other words: Darwin’s writings prefigure contemporary animal turn in humanities presented by such authors as Cary Wolfe, Donna Haraway, Matthew Calarco, Kari Weil.
In his The Descent of Man we find a thesis that history of moral development can be understood as history of sympathy. According to Darwin it reaches its highest point in human feeling of compassion towards animals.  Man as such is obliged to form moral relations with others, also with  non-humans, “lower animals”, as Darwin puts it. In this context I find the narration of  The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals particularly interesting; especially examples of canine behavior based on Darwin’s own everyday observations. Scientific theory is grounded here in the personal experience of human-dog relations. Posing the question of theoretical status of such “anecdotes” I would like to turn to contemporary animal studies. We can find here the same importance of “mundane” – as Donna Haraway puts it – everyday life practices and interspecies encounters. One could think of the famous Derrida – cat meeting  for example. In this context XIX century Darwinian observations can be viewed as a kind of “ante-post-humanism” heralding radical turn that has occurred one hundred years later. 

SCHULZE Lenke - The One Medicine Approach – Chance or challenge for enhanced legal protection for animals?

 The One Medicine Approach postulates the unification of human and non-human animal medicine – because biologically humans need to regard non-human animals as close relatives.
A unification of human and non-human animal medicine however goes far beyond the prevailing human-animal relationship in the law. Alike the field of medicine, the law strongly differentiates between humans and non-human animals. As subjects of law, humans are holders of subjective rights and duties. Animals – objects alike – do not have rights; they are subject to the execution of rights ascribed to humans. The distinction permits humans to use animals for human purposes. The different legal statuses result from the ethical conviction that humans are superior to animals due to their special abilities – as to speak and to reason. But since the particularity of humans is increasingly questioned, the legal treatment of animals has become subject to criticism. At present a growing number of legal academics and practitioners do not concur with the current legal handling of animals: They either seek to enhance their wellbeing or end their use for human purposes in general. The One Medicine approach also questions the particularity of humans – with regard to health aspects. But the concept’s aim to recognize the linkage between human and animal health is after all human-centered. The concept constitutes a compelling reason to enact further animal welfare regulations as strengthened animal welfare laws will improve animal health and successively lead to enhanced human health. Therefore, the One Medicine concept works with the underlying premise, that the use of animals – although it postulates a strong linkage – is morally justified. The presentation will use the conflict the One Medicine Approach provokes to exemplify this decisive existing struggle within the legal field of animal studies. 

SHVED Inna - Animals and their people in traditional spiritual culture of Belarusians

In the Belarusian folklore-ethnographic material shows that animal studies resonate with ancient philosophical traditions. These traditions in this or that aspect meet some of the settings of this new science, and will be needed for the return (!) on scientific grounds to the traditional dialogical approach in solving the problems of human interaction with non-human forms of life.
Debated common position that the unallocated the human from nature finally gave way to counterbalancing it with what binds the dualism of nature and culture. The analysis of the facts shows that the boundary between human and non-human forms of life, human and animal life long remained (and largely remains to this day) indistinct, and sometimes irrelevant at all. This is evidenced by the deep-seated and latched today (particularly in Polesia) idea of original kind of diffuse interpenetration of human and animal forms of life, "interconversion" of human and animal. The representatives of the animal world were treated to the same level of existence as humans, or even to a higher. Thanks to animal agents person (whole human groups) was born, and this relationship further defines human activity until his transfer to another world. Accordingly, the meeting of people of traditional culture to the world, in many cases modeled on ecological and empathic, non-anthropocentric basis.

SIUDZIŃSKA Anna - Human towards to suffering and death of the animal, the animal towards to suffering and death in the context of changes of behavior in the Middle Ages and modern Period times with particular emphasis on the history of relations human – horse

Animals play an important role in the symbolism of life and death, as they are integral in human life. On the other hand, they have also been a source of cruel entertainment (historically, specifically for the wealthy).
This lecture will focus on several aspects of the relationship between man and animal:
- animals and symbolism of death
- pets
- the beginning of modern veterinary medicine; the human attitude towards the death of animals (farewells and memories)
- Animals and their participation in funeral rites
- Horses in human routine/life
- Developing changes in the treatment of horses (magic horse/ working tool/battle companion/friend)


Acknowledged as the “inventor of animal psychologism” (an expression by J.E. Płomieński), nowadays Adolf Dygasiński is a writer who is not appreciated enough. The phenomenon of his writings has not been explained by the analysis referring to the study of the influence of K. Darwin and J.J. Virey (natural scientists, who in their scientific descriptions applied strategies of animal personification, using an emotional narrative at the same time) or A. Schopenhauer (who claimed that animals are aware of their own “I” contrary to the world, i.e.  to “not I”).
A ”pleasant” insight into nature, which is peculiar to Dygasiński’s works, inspires interpretations in a spirit of the philosophically-oriented ecoaesthetics.

SOBOLEWSKA Anna - Two Projects of Making Wild Animals Human – Idealism and Cruelty. The films “Grizzly Man” of Werner Herzog and “Nim” of James Marsh.

Contemporary discussions concerning an animal as „the Other” and an impassable border between a man and an animal - in spite of their multilateral communication. The human heroes of both films - as animal lovers – believe in the possibility of an ideal community of both species. As they try to transgress this boundary they loose either their beliefs or life. In both films the ideal of oneness of a human being and an animal has tragic consequence for a man / “Grizzly Man”/ or for an animal /“Nim”/.
“Grizzly Man” of Werner Herzog is situated on the boundary between fiction and non-fiction. The film could be treated as fiction or as a creative documentary, a genre typical of Werner Herzog’ s film art. The story of chimpanzee Nim is a narrative of amazing emancipation and later degradation of an animal hero. During his career life Nim has played all the roles of an animal in an American society: the role of a human child, loved and educated, the role of a pet, or a partner of his guardian, the role of a thing or a living matter in a lab and finally of a prisoner in an asylum for old animals. Nim is a tragic hero favored and persecuted in turn by his human keepers.
On the margin of Nim’ s story it would be interesting to review other projects of harmonious community or ever communion between a man and animals, expressed by Polish novelists and thinkers, e. g. the idea of pantheism inherent in the works of Zofia Nałkowska or the metaphisical project of Jerzy Nowosielski, a painter and lay theologian. His concept of universal redemption and salvation of total  human and animal population is still the most radical Orthodox Christian project.
At present we witness the international movement of “Animal Rights”, defending animals as our fellow-citizens.

SOCHA Kim - Conform or Suffer: A Critique of Behavior Modification on Humans, Nonhumans, and the Environment

 Taken from a co-edited chapter I wrote for Earth, Animal, and Disability Liberation: The Rise of Eco-Ability (Peter Lang 2012), I will explore the overlapping controlling methodologies used upon humans with disabilities, nonhuman animals with so-called behavioral problems, and the Earth itself. In a culture that prizes “normalcy” and bases its conclusions upon scientific criteria springing from the hierarchical, binary Enlightenment dialectic, the Western world has developed chemical and technological products that attempt to control unacceptable behavior amongst the three groups upon which I focus. Although the Earth is not readily seen as an oppressed population, as are nonhumans and people with disabilities, the same approach to controlling that which does not conform amongst species is also used upon what I term “wild” nature: those sectors of the environment not yet spoiled by human interference. Beyond just explaining the similarities amongst these subjugating practices and subjugated groups, I critique the use of such methods as inherently abusive; they are also ultimately futile within the continued human project of differentiating ourselves from nature, thereby bolstering—however tenuously—the classic divides between nature and culture, normal and abnormal, and human and animal. With analysis of aversive practices from the field of psychology and a critique of the commodity culture that promises control of the “wild things” among us (i.e. barking dogs and raging weeds), I hope to continue the promise of Critical Animal Studies, which is to blur the lines humans have constructed and to challenge the oppression that results from these cultural configurations.

STANESCU Vasile - The Judas Pig: How we Kill “Invasive Species” on the Excuse of “Protecting Nature”

Both Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Donna Haraway's When Species Meet use the example “invasive species” (and, specifically, the killing of “feral” pigs in Santa Cruz) as proof that animal rights and environmentalism are incapable. As such,  “invasive species” in general, and “feral” pigs in Santa Cruz in particular, have become a touchstone for placing animals in competition with “nature.” In contrast, I argue that the removal of “feral” pigs from Santa Cruz Islands was not motivated by environmental concerns, but instead, by desires to create a marketable view of nature “untouched by human hands” (a quotation from the promotional website). Ironically, these animals were killed via technological approaches such as shooting pigs from helicopters, using electric fences, and primarily, by removing the uterus of female pigs: chemically forcing them into uterus and then injecting them with tracking makers in order to locate other pigs (a practice the industry refers to as creating  “Judas pigs”). In other words, I argue this large-scale violence against both nonhuman animals and the “natural” world is perpetrated under the false rhetoric of “protecting nature” against supposedly “invasive” species. Moreover, I argue that all such arguments merely mask the statistical reality that the most invasive and environmentally destructive animals on the planet are not pigs on a small island, but humans themselves.

STANKIEWICZ Michał - THE OPERA BESTIARY. Searching for Animals and Their Meaning in Operas and Ballets

Various kinds of animals have appeared on theatre stages since the very beginning of the theatre. They are the main characters, symbols, drama references, creations of myths, notions of attitudes or stage decorations. They appear in this manner in operas and ballets, where the musical element of their voices is added. Animals have been presented in the musical theatre since the 17th century.
The author of this study states that the presence of animals in the opera and ballet may be classified on several levels and according to that their meaning may be analysed. It should be emphasized that animals may be the dramatic subject or object, in various works animals may be personified or on the contrary – the actors may be animalized and in the musical aspect animals may appear as sounds imitating their voices. Modern performances sometimes use animal costumes as an interpretational means of expressing the characters' behaviour.
This paper includes a variety of the most interesting examples of musical literature, involving an anonymous composition, assumed to be the oldest Polish opera Heca albo polowanie na zająca, operas by Georg F. Händel (Solomon, Rinaldo), Wolfgang A. Mozart (The Magic Flute), Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov (The Golden Cockerel), Leoš Janáček (The Cunning Little Vixen), Gioachino Rossini (The Thieving Magpie), Eugen d’Albert (The Lowlands), Richard Wagner (Siegfried, Parsifal), Igor Stravinsky (The Nightingale), Arthur Honegger (Joan of Arc at the Stake), Walter Braunfels (The Birds), Xavier Montsalvatge (Puss in Boots), as well as ballets by Pyotr Tchaikovsky (Swan Lake) and Sergei Prokofiev (Peter and the Wolf). In these works such animal characters appear as owl, eagle, magpie, woodpecker, duck, swan, nightingale, cat, dog, fox, wolf, hare, pig, ram, horse, donkey, snake or dragon.

SUPKA Mariel - Perspectives on Ecological Performance Making with Non-native Animals. From Ecological Uncertainties to Postanthropocentric Ethics

Non-native animals are commonly described as harmful to the environment. Government bodies and other interest groups advocate their elimination, frequently using an aggressive and criminalising language, which adopts military metaphors and builds on xenophobic sentiments. This representation develops people’s sense of cultural and geographical belonging through an emphasis on differences, and a romanticised image of unspoiled nature. Although non-native animals in many cases do constitute a serious challenge to existing ecosystems, the current discourse in both lay and scientific contexts seems to a large extent informed by philosophical and political interests that originate outside the realm of ‘care for the environment’.
    Building on an analysis of this discourse, I will argue that the confrontation with non-native species connects to theories in posthumanism by Cary Wolfe (2010) and Rosi Braidotti (2013), which reject binary distinctions between nature and culture and promote a non-anthropocentric understanding of non-human agents. The presence of so-called non-native species can also be seen in support of arguments made by scientists, such as biologist Küffer (2013) and geographer Lorimer (2012), that it is no longer possible to separate nature from human involvement, which makes an understanding of nature as a consistent entity untenable. Instead, the non-native species debate necessitates a reconceptualisation of our coexistence with non-human agents on this planet in an integrative and affirmative way.
    In order to challenge prevailing narratives about non-native animals, I propose an exploration of possibilities for shared constitution of living conditions, by humans and non-humans. These explorations will take place in the form of different performance arts projects, which I aim to devise in the habitats of non-native animals such as the Chinese mitten crab. Human and animal performers will contribute to the joint creation of architectural artefacts.

SZCZYGIELSKA Marianna - War in the Garden of Eden: Zoo as a Paradigmatic Biopolitical Space

From the first scenes of Emir Kusturica’s Underground movie, through press releases on the bombings in the Gaza Strip, and numerous literary representations, the “zoo in wartime” functions as a popular cultural trope. My point of departure is the institution of the zoological garden as a space where different models of power-knowledge intersect. I argue that by combining educational, scientific and entertainment functions, as well as being a space where the boundaries between the human and the nonhuman are constantly negotiated, the zoo belongs to the Foucauldian biopolitical apparatus. The shift from private menageries to public zoological gardens in the 19th century Europe coincides with the birth of nation state, increase in colonial trade, industrial revolution, mass migration from the countryside to cities, the emergence of new social classes (the bourgeoisie and proletariat) and the emergence of scientific evolutionary theory. Considering this historical background, the time of war, understood as a disruption of the Enlightenment order and the illusion of pastoral harmony with nature, shapes my analysis of the zoological garden as a hybrid space of interspecies encounters in the context of radical suspension of moral norms. By analyzing the memoirs of Antonina Żabińska (the Warsaw Zoo director’s wife during World War II) and the testimonies of the Warsaw Ghetto survivors who were hiding in zoo cages, I suggest to look at the zoo from a biopolitical perspective. Giorgio Agamben’s “bare life” idea is challenged by this situation in which the zoo as a place of complete animalization becomes a shelter for homo sacer.  Moreover, in the light of campaigns like “Dig for Victory” introduced in Great Britain, the U.S. and Canada, where botanical and zoological gardens were transformed into allotments to grow vegetables during World War II, the smooth transgression of the zoo into a space of production/consumption reveals the entanglements of this institution with the bio-capitalist processes of animal exploitation on both material and discursive levels. A critical view on the zoological garden in times of war poses a question about the ontological status of “becoming (with) animals” in modernity.

SZLESZYŃSKI Bartłomiej - People like animals? About meaning of animal threads in the post apocalyptic world (on the example of The Last of Us game)

The post apocalyptic stories, narrated by various media (books, comics, movies, computer games) are quite important threads of culture in the last years. They differ in terms of the depth of issues discussed and the manner of their presentation,  but all of them, in some way, raise issues related to human, humanity and human morality in the world after the ruin. I suggest a reversal of perspective and taking a look at the post-apocalyptic world in terms of the role attributed to the animals - whether and how it differs from the role of animals in our world. The main text of culture, which I would like to analyze  is The Last of Us game, created by Naughty Dog studio. This game is not only utilizing and creatively transforming existing post-apocalyptic threads, but also adding moral reflection to it, referring to the Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road. While the key issue for the analysis of the game is transformation of human morality, expressive animal motifs are complementing meaning of the text in an interesting way.
The paper will focus on the following issues:
1)  Animals and plants “next  to” the human apocalypse
2) Correlation between the ability of animal breeding and positive moral valuation
3) Issue of hunting, body and meat (reevaluation of the human body, hunt for animals and for humans, human body as meat)

TOKARSKI Mateusz - Wild at home – an overview of spontanous rewilding in cultural landscapes

In the wake of establishment of Europe-wide protective measures wild nature has seen some recovery. But this reappearance of wild nature is not limited to nature reserves or other protected areas. Often it reappears in least expected places. Foxes, wild boars, badgers, stone martens, deer move into cities around the continent. This is first time in decades or even  centuries that people in urbanized areas have to deal with wild animals in direct vicinity of their dwelling places. Some people see these developments negatively while others welcome resurging wild nature even if it causes problems. This leads to appearance of societal conflicts that at their root are normative conflicts related to ideas about relationship between humans and nature. Such conflicts and the possible values of wild nature have been discussed previously but mostly in relation to nature reserves and wilderness areas. Moreover environmental ethics has mostly concentrated on an itemizing approach to values (educational, aesthetic, utilitarian, intrinsic) largely ignoring the competing meaningful worldviews on which these values are predicated and narratives through which they are shared. The mentioned phenomena, however, force us to rethink our moral relationship to wildlife in context of inhabiting the same areas – places that we have up to now conceived exclusively in human terms. Hermeneutics might be uniquely suited to understanding what are the moral meanings implicated in those conflicts (e.g. what are the different meanings of home and how do they change when wildlife appears in its vicinity) thus facilitating our understanding of what these conflicts are really about.

TWARDOCH Ewelina - People who are animals, animals that are people – the images of hybrids in new technologies art

In my presentation I would like to deal with a certain artistic phenomenon which on the one hand is relatively new and unexploited in the contemporary art (so called new technologies art) and on the other hand, dates back to the earliest cultural background - the mythological imaginations and beliefs. Moreover it is a phenomenon which undermines the anthropocentric perspective related to our culture. As this phenomenon I see a lot of artistic works, which are realized in different media, in different techniques, and which present hybrid creatures - a combination of human and animal traits.
In my assumptions primarily I will focus on the works of two Italian artists Patriccia Piccinini and Benedetta Bonichi, but I will refer also to the works of other artists (like Kira O'Reilly, Helmut Kiewert), including Polish artists – among others it will be Kuba Bąkowski – as well. The Piccinini’s  works will be analyzed in two ways. The first issue refers to the relation existing between a woman and an animal (in this case it is mainly a pig – I see here apparent similarity to the works of O'Reilly ), developed by the artist in the context of her own motherhood (works from the artistic cycles: "Prone", "When My Baby", "Children" , "Surrogate" and first of all "The Young Family "). These works show the great empathy with animal mothers and – according to the artist herself – advocate remarkable diversity and fragile beauty of new life. The second issue is associated with the real problems of animals and the human moral decisions which are related: the transplantation of animal organs, the euthanasia of sick and old animals, laboratory experiments on animals.
The works of Bonichi are made differently than Piccinini’s, there are not sculptures made from organic materials, but special X-rays images, which Bonichi titled ‘To see in the dark’. Among them there are the figures of the half-octopus, the half-human and the half-bird, the half-human – some kind of a legendary creature: phoenix. Looking at what is invisible to the naked eye, Bonichi - as she says - tries to ask a question about our relationship with animals (the issue of body and mortality), evokes images of the ancient deities and wonders how has been changed our relationship to animals, that were at one time deified (as goods), at another threated as creatures that spread a panic (demons).  
In my presentation I would like to refer to the statements of the artists, who trough their works and assumptions complement the discourse associated with the animal studies and to the selected concepts taken from the transhumanism philosophy. I will use Giorgio Agamben's famous categories: human, non- human and nonhuman, wondering which of these terms are adequate to the status of "hybrid ": they are closer to the animal beings (so there are one of the species) or human beings excluded from the human community (barbarians, dissenters)? At this point I will refer to the statements of Rosi Braidotti, which stay in opposition to the Agamben’s thesis. I'll also try to show that hybrids go beyond this distinction and it is a sign of specific exclusion, which are subject to - exclusion in some ways discursive, or even paradigmatic (even category of speciesism [gatunkowizm] - terrible sounding in Polish - it is not able to assign them to a specific location in culture and society, otherwise than by assigning them the status of fantasy characters). 
Moreover, in the context of considerations of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari I take into consideration the issue related to the meaning of becoming an animal and human.
Finally, in my assumptions I would like to deal with the category of metamorphosis, the concept taken from the issue of "Tierstudien" 04/2013 and with selected thesis related to bioethics (J. Zylinska).

TWARDOWSKI Mirosław - The man-animal relation vs. Christian personalism

Views of contemporary philosophers concerning the man–animal relation are as varied as the views of their predecessors over the centuries. Some of them are unshakably convicted of the fact that animals have a soul and consciousness and because of that, like man, are a real subject of morality that is entitled to certain rights. The main argument of those philosophers which supports the moral subjectivity of animals is the fact that they are described by such features as sensory experiences, the ability to feel pain or the purposefulness of their behaviour. The following philosophers belong to this group: Jeremy Bentham, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Arthur Schopenhauer, Herbert Spencer and as well as modern philosophers: Peter Singer, Erhard Oeser and Conrad Lorenz. Other philosophers, including Aristotle, Descartes, Nicolas de Malebranche as well as contemporary philosophers: Tadeusz Ślipko believe that unlike people, animals have neither soul nor consciousness and as a result they do not consider them the subject, but object of morality. Such philosophers see the source of this morality in people’s duties to animals.
    This paper is devoted to the man-animal relation from the perspective of one of the major current in contemporary Christian philosophy, namely personalism. Advocates of this current believe that animals are in their behaviour determined to some strictly defined set of actions that repeat themselves continuously and that are characteristic of a particular species. As a result there is no ground to state that they demonstrate internal or external progress simulated by their own cognitive and aspiration behaviour. Therefore animals are unable to develop their psychical or moral life by means of their own efforts. In other words, the prehistoric dog behaved in the same way as its contemporary descendants. Only people as an animal rationale can be considered the subject of morality. It follows that the sources of moral norms regulating the people’s attitude to animals do not inhere in animal, but in man. By referring to the hierarchy of values characteristic of man and animals, the ethics based on the principles of Christian personalism highlights the individuality and diversity of the animal world that is expressed by the complexity and intensity of animal psychism.
    Apart from our deliberations on the man-animal relation from the perspective of Christian personalism, in order to outline the differences we are going to discuss alternative perspectives of this topic and refer to advocates of other currents in contemporary philosophy, especially Peter Singer, Erhard Oeser or Conrad Lorenz.

TYMIENIECKA-SUCHANEK Justyna - The animal should be killed (beaten).
Homo crudelis in Russian journalism of the early 20th century

The subject of this discussion is Russian journalism of the early 20th century, criticizing cruelty to animals. Problem of moral appraisal of the relation human being – animals was taken up in Russia by representatives of various circles. Animal Studies do not originate solely from Anglo-Saxon tradition. This intellectual  movement started also in Russia and was represented by activists, relatively unknown in Poland, such as: W. Czertkow, P. Biezobrazow, F. Potiechin, S. Radajew, W. Doroszewicz and others. The fundamental ethical objections raised by them were: animal slaughter and brutal performances.

TYMIŃSKA Marta - Sharing the spirit. Modern day Napo Runa (Equador) relationship with animals on daily and mythical basis

Napo Runa are the indigenous people form amazonian part of Ecuador, who live in the rainforest by the Napo River. Complicated ethnogenesis of this group – many migrations, early contact with the conquistadors, cultural exchange with other tribes – influenced deeply the social structure, beliefs and the perception of the world.
    In the belief system of Napo Runa there is one important concept of supai (or samai), which is, in fact, defined as a life force. People, animals and plants can exchange this kind of life force, as it is not individualised nor monopolised by any of being. This circulation of energy within family, friends, animals and plants has consequences in day to day life.
    Animals are treated as equal beings and as such they are part of spiritual negotiation in the hunting or nurturing situations.
    The presentation will be analysing the meaning and ways of treating animals in Napo Runa culture. The data were collected in 2009 durign Students' Field Research Ecuador 2009 organised by Culture Studies Department at University of Gdańsk and „Mozaika” Learning Circle.
    The results will be discussed in the light of newest animal studies discourse.

ULLRICH Jessica - Contact zones - Where dogs and humans meet. Dog-human-metamorphoses in
contemporary art

Dogs as natureculture in a Harawayn sense are creatures of the contact zone. As companion animals they have played a significant role in human cultural history and are just as much cultural beings as natural beings. Because of the millenium-long co-evolution of humans and canines, dogs have always been easy to anthropomorphize. Dogs are still important for the constitution of human identity and they often serve as  projection surface for human wishes and fears. They can amplify human senses and catalyze human megalomania. My talk wants to introduce different approaches of mostly performative, transgressive dog-human-metamorphoses in contemporary art that reflect, analyze, critize or ironizes the ambivalent, volatile relationship of men and his „best friend“.

ULLRICH Martin - Between Philology and Biology: Animal Music and its Epistemological and Methodological Framework

Musicology as an academic field is no longer a monolithic entity, but has over the course of the 20th century developed in an array of differentiated sub-disciplines. The interdisciplinary approach of human-animal studies and its interest in the phenomena of animal music and interspecies art now has to find an academic position between philology, ethnomusicology, biomusicology and sound studies (to name only a few). The paper will show the catalytic role of non-human animals for the development of human music and will also address the epistemological challenge that is posed by the phenomenon of animal music. The rediscovery of music in the last years by the sciences and especially the contributions of cognitive ethology, neurobiology and evolutionary psychology to the area are of high interest. Nevertheless, classical musicology as part of the humanities should not simply be replaced by purely scientific approaches. The potential of human-animal studies as a bridge between cultural studies and natural sciences is focused paradigmatically when non-human music is concerned. I will try to sketch an epistemological framework for an interdisciplinary musicology of animal music and to offer a rich variety of methods from several academic disciplines for animal studies in music.

URBAŃSKI Piotr - Renaissance Humanists and Theirs Dogs: Dog in Neo-Latin Poetry 

The starting point of the present paper is the statement of Pliny that dog is the only one creature except man who reacts on his name. The aim of the paper is to analyze different models of the relationship between man and dog in early modern Latin poems, focusing on lap dogs. Collected material, c. one hundred poems, allows not only to offer exemplification but also to suggest some general statements. The second issue considered in this paper is the use of classical tradition: using the same phrases and topoi to express some feelings, esp. grief in funeral laments, is an evidence of effacing the border between an animal and a human being. The comparative materials are cynologic Latin treatises, Cynographia curiosa and De canibus Britannicis.

WŁODARCZYK Justyna - Postmodern breed: the demise of the master narrative of dog breed

Susan McHugh has pointed out that the impulse to categorize, classify and stabilize the variety of canines through the category of breed was “part of the process by which the world’s people were for the first time scientifically catalogued according to race, sex and gender” (Mc Hugh 2004, 66) and views this process as part of imperialist politics. Other scholars (Ritvo 1991, Borneman 1988) have noticed how the emergence of the category of animal breed was used to strengthen sentiments of national and ethnic superiority. What remains to be analyzed are the contemporary challenges to the category of breed from the perspective of the Lyotardian collapse of grand narratives, as postmodern challenges to a modernist narrative. The paper applies contemporary theories of the social construction of race in the United States (in particular, Stuart Hall and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.) to the concept of dog breeds, proving that the discursive category of breed, similarly to the category of race, was used to inscribe, rather than only describe, differences of both appearance and behavior. The paper then provides examples of practices carried out in the contemporary dog world (including practices of dog breeding and dog training) to argue that we are currently witnessing a demise of the modernist concept of breed, or a certain postmodern loss of faith in the unity of the signifier (the actual dog) and the signified (the written breed standard). 

VERWIMP Regis - American fauna, a spiritual path for Westerners (17th-18th century)

During the period of the Old Regime in Europe, the animal is considered as a value (food or money), as a useful object without any emotional response. Tropical animals, during those times of colonization are an extra curiosity thanks to their colors and unknown or strange shapes. Writings from the Jesuits of the colonies, in the Edifying and Curious Letters of missioners abroad cannot escape the taste of Europe for exotic matters. The missionaries have to describe this wild fauna. But, nevertheless, this description, by its mode and its nature, introduces a much more complex perception of animal kingdom.
    Considering a limited assessment for human conversions, Jesuits also need to remove the anthropic subject to a different one : wildlife and nature. This move from human exoticism to animal exoticism will be transformed to a spiritual exoticism with a positive and negative answer. One is making the animal a medium for spiritual process, the other one finds animals guilty.

VISIGALLI Egle Barone - Stories of animals and men in the Franco-Brazilian Amazon

As part of the project «Men, plants and animals in Amazonia» (Antilles-Guyane University/ Ecole Normale Superieure of Paris), we propose an analysis of the environmental speeches and its practices concerning nature by the Native Amazonians from South French Guyana, at the Brazilian border.
We specifically work on the relations between the wild and domesticated animals, the Brazilians (former gold washers that became farmers or storekeepers) and the Tupi Guarani Native Americans living in the French area since the XVIIth century.
First results show an interesting consideration. On the one hand, in the Native American community, by far still animist, where all living species have a spirit, the animal everyday life is hard, highly utilitarian. On an other hand, in the “bad” Brazilian goldwashers’ community, Catholics and Evangelists that originated such big damages to the forest environment due to their activities, the link to domesticated animals is often, on the opposite, more empathetic…
Many anthropological positions that were considered set are now being questioned by those new thinking systems.
We also started to write a history of dogs and cats populations of the area where Native American since Prehistory, and Brazilians for just a century, are living.

WERETIUK Oksana - My Dog and Literary “Translation” Criticism ( the Subjectivity of the Dog in Flush by Virginia Woolf and Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka)

My dog lies beside on the rug at the desk, he accompanies me on my academic work. He is relaxed, pleased with my immediate proximity, patiently awaiting our playtime- his eyes and mouth will all laugh, saying „Yes!”, and he will reject Descartes’ claim that animals use no language and the man is the only animal that is able to laugh. My friend helps me to take a critical look at the “translation” of dog speech into verbal signs, into the symbolic language of a literary text, after all, the dog-subject narration in literature occurs via language.
     Walter Benjamin investigated speech (communication) with regard to what connects us to animals rather than separates from them (‘Benjamin does not distinguish between the human and the animal in terms of a simple opposition between the presence and the absence of language’ - Andrew Benjamin, On Jews and Animals, 2010) and defined their language as ‘the unspoken word’. I will examine that language, dog’s speech, analysing two literary works representing two different epochs, I will analyse the narration of the speaking subject, to examine how the change of the narration strategy and grammatical form of an utterance influence the subjectivity of dog-protagonist, to what extent they anthropomorphise it (or is it a human narrator that theriomorphises himself/ herself ?). Furthermore, I will focus on the imagological perception of the dog (the Other), in the works of both authors, discovering and understanding the close Other.  

WRÓBLEWSKI Zbigniew - Thinking organisms.
Moral implications of research concerning cognitive abilities of animals.

Current researches from the field of comparative anthropology and cognitivism widely broaden our knowledge about cognitive abilities of animals. Discussion about so-called simple minds (animal minds) is no longer treated as scientific eccentricity but it became important and appreciated filed of scientific and philosophical research. The significance of these researches arises among other things from the fact that they lead to important moral implications: these researches might support or diminish our convictions about moral status of animals.
    In the context of scientific research concerning cognitive abilities of animals one can put anew the problems of: moral rights,normativity of actions, and moral qualifications in the ethics of animal protection, i.e. if only the beings, which are capable of conscious thinking about thought for reciting what they are thinking, deserve for the compassion and moral interest, or maybe rather, the problem of moral protection and as a result legal one is not connected with the question of conscious reception of pain and sense of grievance. Findings concerning above mentioned problems have crucial practical consequences which in turn might be formulated in the controversial manner in the following way:
    Similarly then in the case of brutes: since their [animals - ZW] experiences, including their pains, are nonconscious ones, their pains are of no immediate moral concern. Indeed, since all the mental states of brutes are  nonconscious, their injuries are lacking even in indirect moral concern. (…).Much time and money is presently spent on alleviating the pains of brutes which ought properly to be directed toward human beings, and many are now campaigning to reduce the efficiency of modern farming methods because of the pain caused to the animals involved. [P. Carruthers, Brute experience, J. Philosophy, 1989, 89, s. 268-269]

WU Shih-Yun - The animal welfare legislations under such regulation-driven culture formation

Over times, the relationship between human beings and animals continues to change. The recognition of animals as sentient beings and thus deserving moral consideration and protection from harm and suffering has been becoming the consensus around the world. Thus, more and more countries have begun to promulgate legislation concerning the minimum standard of animal protection with a variety of the extent and scope of protection. However, the countries under the culture without animal welfare movements and social reforms which were specifically based on the influences of relevant philosophical debates and social reforms in the British from the 18th century seem to have less motivation in promulgating modern animal welfare legislation. For example, so far, a general animal welfare legislation is still lacking and related regulations are also limited in China. In contrast, Taiwan, which is also the country under the Chinese culture, has developed its animal protection law since 1998 under the pressure of international society. Through the comparative legal study of the anti-cruelty law and enforcement mechanism in the EU, Taiwan and China (the draft law), the findings indicate that the effectiveness of the laws under such regulation-driven animal protection culture formation is questionable, since most provisions of the laws which prohibit the behaviors or activities based on social order and custom are for administrative purposes, not for preventing animals from sufferings. However, “suffering is a necessary prerequisite for any conviction under statute.” as suggested by Helena Striwing, attorney and specialist on animal law.

ZAWISZA Robert - Me and my Pet. The Representations of Animals in the Contemporary Iconography of Graves on the Example of Latvia

  The portraits of animals on the grave stones are an interesting example of the contemporary sepulchral art. In the traditional art of the tombs the animals were occasionally used as symbolic figures, but they were not directly related to the deceased person: moths, lions, unicorns, doves, horses. Meanwhile, since the early 90s of the last century we can observe that in the Latvian necropolis the depicting of animals appears again, perhaps as imitation of similar patterns in Russian and Scandinavian cemeteries. These animals are usually engraved on the surface of the grave plate, but in some individual cases they are represented as reliefs or full figures. These motifs can be devided into four groups:
-  the most popular pets that accompany a person, such as dog, horse, cat;
-  work or hobby animals, these are usually the group pictures, like a policeman with a dog, a hunter with a hunting dog, a breeder with his animals;
-  wild animals as part of the landscape or the surrounding nature;
- animals as a religious or symbolic representations, even mythical creatures.
   In the present-day we can see the individualization of the burial process. This circumstance draws attention to the private sphere that was rarely expressed in de iconography in the past. Pets are so important to certain people that they put their image on the monument. There is also a new tradition to set up individual cemeteries for animals, for example, in Riga, Daugavpils and Liepaja. The most gravestones of the favorite animals are modest: a small plate or an uncut stone with the name or the figure, sometimes engraved together with a friend. In Latvia the cemeteries for animals are mostly considered as a curiosity or even as a perversion.
   The iconography of the graves should be represented in a wider context of popular art and the processes of individualization. This draws attention to the motives of the grave founders who decide for the animal representation.

ZIĘBA Magdalena - Human versus animal, or à rebours? Shifting gaze in contemporary art

All bodies, including but not limited to human bodies, come to matter through the world’s iterative intra-activity, its performativity. Boundaries, properties, and meanings are differentially enacted through the intra-activity of mattering. Differentiating is not
In context of the posthumanism we shall see art as a territory “in between” – between the area of pure knowledge and of culture. It is in art where take place the processes of working through a difficult relationships between our particular ideas about the world and its objectified and rationalized scientific version. In my paper I will deal with the relationship between human and animal existing in contemporary art from a perspective of a bi-directional gaze, generated either in the direction of an animal, or of a man.
    In works such as Jannis Kounellis’s Horses (1969), or performance I Like America and America Likes Me by Joseph Beuys (1974) we observe a transformation of the meaning of animal as a being, which is a result of its relocation from real world to the context of an art gallery. Through this decontextualisation, the animal as a being is re-sanctioned, and human gaze is redirected, so that the boundary between nature and culture is erased in the most literal dimension.
    Starting with these art history classics, I will try to outline the game with shifting gaze in modern culture, which reflects a major change in the relation: man vs. animal. This change, dictated by latest discoveries in science, and hence, by the fascination with biological dimension of our existence, is a contribution to a reflection on, perhaps a bit frightening question: “Who is here looking at whom?”. According to John Berger, the ontological separation of human beings from<