Call for Papers: Animals and History

RHN 54/2013 | Call

Organiser: Susan Nance, Department of History and Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, University of Guelph

Deadline: 21 June 2013

Call for Papers: Animals and History

As historians, we rely upon a belief in the familiarity of the human experience in order to document the lives of people who lived in radically different times or places than our own. If we did not assume a basic continuity in human nature and experience in this way, all history would be restricted to autobiography. However, with nonhuman historical actors we can make no such assumption. Yet the history of animals is being written. So, how are we doing it?

This call for papers invites chapter proposals for “Animals and History,” an edited collection exploring how we approximate the interspecific past. Chapters can consist of case studies, historiographical or theoretical pieces investigating, for instance:

  • crucial themes and topics in the nonhuman/interspecific past, eg.: control, exploitation, animal capital, conservation, extinction, human-animal “bond,” pet-keeping, over-breeding, experimentation, genetic manipulation, conservation, extermination, “invasive” species, aggression, human advocacy, anti-cruelty and animal control laws, food, entertainment, etc.
  • what historical topics/themes nonhuman animals might choose if they could, eg.: eating, mating, confinement, movement, training, pain, smell, rest, etc.
  • how the history of animals changes our periodization of past
  • how animal history draws from/differs from the "natural history" of a given species
  • archive building, especially in the digital age; all our archives are structured and mandated to collect records of human life - how do historians work around this fact?
  • nonhuman source bases, their problems and opportunities: fossils, radio collar pings, or other “traces” found in text, moving images, photographs, artwork, etc.
  • historicizing animals as individuals by accounting for issues of species, sex, age, experience and context that produced particular kinds of animals (and people) in particular contexts
  • methodologies and theories from other disciplines - from Critical Animal Studies and Philosophy through Anthropology and Sociology to Veterinary Medicine and Animal Welfare Research Science - and how historians can/should use them to interpret the historical record
  • the goal of attempting to measure and convey the experiences of historical animals; can we? should we? what do we learn?
  • the underlying assumptions that should guide animal history; consider how feminism undergirds women’s and gender history, or how advocacy for conservationism and sustainability tends to undergird environmental history - should animal history assume animal rights, welfarist or conservationist philosophies?
  • why the history of other animals matters – empirically, theoretically, ethically and - especially - politically
  • if a tree falls in the forest - because cut down by a beaver - and no human is there to hear it, does it make a historical sound? That is, is the history of nonhuman animals intrinsically valuable?

Please send a 1-page abstract to Susan Nance, by June 21, 2013. Thereafter, first drafts of no more than 10,000 words (including notes) are due Nov 1. Final publication targeted for late 2014 or so. Highly experimental work welcome!

Contact: Susan Nance
Department of History and Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare
University of Guelph
Guelph, ON N1G 2W1

Source: H-Rural