The third and final day of the international Minding Animals conference began with a bang as my colleague Scott Brenton presented a paper that he and I had co-authored with Clare McCausland. Titled 'Trespass in the name of animal rights', I have blogged about the paper previously. In it we deal with questions about whether animal advocates who enter farms to gather information are playing a legitimate role in the public policy process.
We were very lucky to have
Tony Milligan from the University of Aberdeen in the audience. He provided us
some wonderful feedback and we are hopeful that this will be the start of a
fruitful information sharing relationship - see conferences aren't just an
excuse for travel!!
After lunch I presented a
paper on behalf of myself, Barbara Creed and Jenny Gray. Titled 'Low Down Dirty
Rat: responses to urban wildlife', I have also blogged about
My work with Creed is the
first time I have collaborated with a cultural studies scholar. It was
therefore a wonderful learning opportunity. But I must admit to feeling a
little scared standing at the front of the room discussing concepts that are
new to me. However, I think the paper went well and I had a number of kind
people approach me later to tell me that they enjoyed hearing me speak. I even
met a PhD candidate from the University of Wollongong working on introduced
Later in the afternoon I
went to hear Tony Milligan speak. His paper was titled 'Animal Rescue as Civil
Disobedience' and it was great to have the opportunity to question him about
Following Tony's paper it
was time to race back to the hotel and frock-up for the conference dinner. The
dinner was held at University Hall in the Centre of town, at the same place the
conference commenced. Seated in the ceremonial hall of a university that was
first founded in 1600 was a humbling experience. The Vice Chancellor explained
the history of the room, and the University, between courses. We were then
surprised by the appearance of bagpipes.
One of the wonderful things
about the dinner is that I found myself sitting next to a person I had never
spoken to before. He had been in my session, and with only that in
common, we talked and talked and talked about what we thought about the various
papers and frameworks used by others attending the conference. A wonderful exchange between strangers.
With the dinner concluded
the conference was officially over for me. However, as is customary at
conferences, we rounded up friends, old and new, and headed out for a couple of
drinks and informal talk about all things conference, academic and animal
So what were the highlights
First, I have been able to
make very positive and promising plans for collaboration. I hope to be able to
arrange to have two colleagues from cultural studies visit the University of
Melbourne at the end of the year. I am also optimistic that Prof. Robert Garner
might pay us a flying visit some time soon.
Second, I have put plans in
place to attend a roundtable at the University of Sheffield in late September
2013. If those plans come to fruition it will result in publications dedicated
to animals and political sciences.
Third, it was wonderful to
engage with the team from the Centre for Animals and Social Justice (CASJ). I am
hopeful that the centre might help facilitate collaboration between
political scientists in the field.
And finally, the keynotes
by Robert Garner and Will Kymlicka was a real treat.
So a big thank you to Rod
Bennison, Tatjana Višak and everyone else involved in organising the
conference. I can't wait to do it all again in 2015!!