Human-animal research showcased

23 September 2011

Addressing animal abuse and the effectiveness of animal assisted therapy were just two of the research projects showcased at a human-animal studies symposium held at the University of Canterbury this week.

Human-animal research showcased - Imported from Legacy News system

Speakers at the Cultural Animals symposium (from left) Associate Professor Philip Armstrong, Dr Nik Taylor, Dr Alison Loveridge and Professor Henrietta Mondry.

Addressing animal abuse and the effectiveness of animal assisted therapy were just two of the research projects showcased at a human-animal studies symposium held at the University of Canterbury this week.

The symposium, called Cultural Animals, was hosted by the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies (NZCHAS), a research centre within the University’s College of Arts. The centre brings together scholars from the humanities and social sciences whose research is concerned with the conceptual and material treatment of non-human animals in culture, society and history.

The event featured presentations of research being carried out by six members of NZCHAS as well as a keynote presentation by NZCHAS international associate Dr Nik Taylor from Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.

Dr Taylor gave an overview of current research looking at the link between animal abuse and anti-social behaviour and aggression, as well as an outline of her own research into different aspects of the human-animal violence field such as the links between domestic violence and animal abuse, and the willingness of people to report acts of violence against humans and animals.

NZCHAS Co-Director Associate Professor Annie Potts (English and Cultural Studies), who presented on the ways in which representations of chickens in the works of contemporary artists reflect a growing societal unease with intensive farming practices, said the symposium was the first event on campus that allowed NZCHAS members to showcase their research.

“Around sixty people from the university and wider community attended the event throughout the day, which demonstrates how strong interest is among staff, students and the general public in learning about the different ways we symbolise and relate to other species,” said Professor Potts.

“Our international visitor was particularly impressed by the enthusiasm of our postgraduate scholars at the centre. Canterbury University is recognised as a global leader in human-animal studies, having set up one of the first dedicated research centres. Under this year’s unusual circumstances we were glad to have the opportunity to run this event, which was also the New Zealand contribution to the world-wide pre-conference series preceding the prestigious Minding Animals International (MAI) Conference in Utrecht next year.

“In the future we plan to organise a more extensive event in New Zealand involving international, national and postgraduate speakers in the field”

Other speakers included UC social work lecturer Nikki Evans (Social and Political Sciences), who discussed the usefulness of animal assisted therapy for those working with violent offenders and the ethical issues involved for therapists; anthropologist Dr Piers Locke (Social and Political Sciences), who talked about his research on the conservation technicians of the Chitwan National Park in Nepal; Professor Henrietta Mondry (Languages, Cultures and Linguistics) who analysed human-dog relations in Alexander Kuprin's famous novella Gambrinus (1908); NZCHAS Co-Director Associate Professor Philip Armstrong (Humanities) who talked about the representation of animals in Samuel Butler’s Erewhon; and Dr Alison Loveridge (Social and Political Sciences) who discussed the relationship between farm children and animals.

For more information please contact:
Associate Professor Annie Potts
Co-director, New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies
University of Canterbury


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