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18 December 2023

The New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies (NZCHAS) conducts a wide range of research. From animals in emergencies to chickens in history, learn about NZCHAS research.


Find out more about some of the research conducted by the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies.

Violence to animals and animal assisted therapies

Principle Investigator: Nik Taylor

  • A significant focus of this research is on links between human and animal directed violence along with a critical consideration of the capacity of Animal Assisted Interventions to mitigate against such behaviour. Some of the research projects in this area include:
  • Investigation into the role companion animals play in the recovery of domestic violence victims, with Dr Heather Fraser, Northern Domestic Violence Service, and Relationships Australia, (2016-2020).
  • Women’s experiences of bonds with companion animals with Dr Heather Fraser and Dr Damien Riggs (2019-present).
  • Investigation into the utility of animal abuse as a red flag in child protection assessments, with Dr Damien Riggs and the Flinders Medical Centre Child Protection Group, (2016-2019).
  • Investigation into experiences of domestic abuse and animal cruelty among people of diverse genders and sexualities with Dr Catherine Donovan, Dr Damien Riggs and Dr Heather Fraser, (2016-2017).
  • Investigation in to domestic violence service provider’s capacity for supporting transgendered women who have companion animals, with Dr heather Fraser and Dr Damien Riggs, (2016).
  • Investigations of the efficacy of equine assisted therapies for female survivors of sexual abuse (two projects addressing different age groups), with Dr Tania Signal, Psychology, CQUniversity, and Phoenix House, Bundaberg, (2010-2017).
  • Investigations of the efficacy of canine assisted therapies with young children subject to abuse, with Dr Tania Signal and Phoenix House, (2010-2015).


Some of the publications include:

  • Taylor, N., & Fraser, H. Rescuing Me, Rescuing You: Companion Animals and Domestic Violence (2019; London. Palgrave).
  • Taylor, N., & Fraser, H. (2017). Condoned Animal Abuse in the Slaughterhouse: The Language of Life, the Discourse of Death, in, J.Maher, H. Pierpoint, & P. Beirne (Eds.) The Handbook of Animal Abuse Studies. London. Palgrave.
  • Taylor, N., & Mackenzie J. (2016). Rotten to the Bone: Discourses of Contamination and National Purity in the European Horsemeat Scandal, in A. Potts (Ed.) Critical Perspectives on Meat Culture. Brill Academic Press.

Critical Approaches to Human-Animal Studies

This theme reflects ongoing interests in theoretical and conceptual approaches to human-animal relations.

Some of the research projects include: 

  • Feminist, inclusive methods for human-animal studies (2016 – present) with Dr Heather Fraser.
  • Theorizing human-animal relations (2014 – present)
  • Investigating the Wellbeing of Australia’s Farmers (2018-2019). Funded by Animals Australia, with Dr Heather Fraser. 

Some of the publications include:

  • Riggs, D., Rosenberg, S., Fraser, H., & Taylor, N. (2021). Queer Entanglements: Intersections of Gender, Sexuality, and Animal Companionship. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.
  • Taylor, N., & Fraser, H. (2020). Resisting sexism and speciesism in the social sciences: Using feminist, species‐inclusive, visual methods to value the work of women and (other) animals. Gender, Work and Organization.
  • Fraser, H., & Taylor. N. (2019). Neoliberalization, Universities and the Public Intellectual: Species, Gender and Class and the Production of Knowledge. London: Palgrave,
  • Taylor, N., & Twine, R. (2014). The Rise of Critical Animal Studies: From the Margins to the Centre. London: Routledge.
  • Taylor, N., & Signal, T. (2011). Theorizing Animals: Re-thinking Humanimal Relations. Boston and Leiden: Brill.

A Bicultural Analysis of Dairying Representations in Aotearoa New Zealand

This project is supported by a grant from the 2017 UC College of Arts Research Challenge funding round.

Taking a ‘human-animal studies’ approach, the researchers will focus on historical and contemporary representations of dairying in Aotearoa New Zealand as demonstrated in dairy industry advertising, local art and photography, and popular cultural depictions (fiction, children’s literature, TV series, films). In considering representations of Māori dairy farming alongside Pākehā ones, they will investigate how cultural differences might play out in contrasting conceptualisations of animals/ngā kararehe, and of the relationships amongst animals, people and environments.

The main outcomes will include 2-3 research articles in internationally refereed journals (co-written by Armstrong, Potts and Dunn); a number of conference papers to be presented at national and international conferences; an edited volume entitled Dear Dairy, and a symposium on the cultural history of dairy (hosted by the NZ Centre for Human-Animal Studies around mid-2017).

New Book

Animals in Emergencies: Learning from the Christchurch earthquakes
by Annie Potts and Donelle Gadenne (Canterbury University Press, December 2014)

To buy a copy online, go to Fishpond (worldwide delivery free):

ISBN: 978-1-927145-50-0
Animal rescue NZ/Human–animal relationships/Resiliency studies

After the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that shook Canterbury on 4 September 2010, the news media initially reported, with understandable relief, that no lives had been lost. In fact, this first quake killed at least 3000 chickens, eight cows, one dog, a lemur and 150 aquarium fish, and was only the first in a series of even more catastrophic quakes that were to follow, in which many humans and animals perished. Animals in Emergencies: Learning from the Christchurch Earthquakes reveals what happened to animals during and after these quakes, and asks what we can learn from these events and from our response to them. The accounts of professionals and volunteers involved in the rescue, shelter and advocacy of the city’s animals post-quakes are presented in the first part of the book, and are followed by the tales of individual animals; together they provide a compelling historical record of how the earthquakes affected human–animal relationships in both positive and negative ways.

In New Zealand we share our lives with a variety of companion animals including dogs, cats, horses, fish, birds,rats, rabbits, guinea pigs and turtles; the stories of how the earthquakes affected them are sometimes heart-breaking and often heart-warming. The book also reports on the fate of urban wildlife such as hedgehogs and seabirds, and considers the particular risks to the animals that are most vulnerable when disasters strike – those confined on farms and in laboratories.

 Animals in Emergencies: Learning from the Christchurch earthquakes shows the importance of human–animal relationships for healing and rebuilding damaged lives, reminding us that as our animals help us cope during times of crisis, they also depend on us. This book urges us not to overlook animals in emergencies and provides helpful and practical advice on how best to prepare for their safety and welfare should the worst happen.

Annie Potts is an associate professor and co-director of the New Zealand Centre for Human–Animal Studies at the University of Canterbury. She is the author of Chicken (Reaktion Books) and a coauthor of A New Zealand Book of Beasts: Animals in our culture, history and everyday life (AUP). Annie recently received the New Zealand Companion Animal Council’s Assisi Animal Welfare Award and was their representative on the National Animal Welfare Emergency Management advisory group from 2011 until 2014.

Donelle Gadenne qualified as a veterinary nurse in Perth, WA and worked at more than 23 veterinary practices in Australia, as a locum at a surgical referral centre and a university-based veterinary training hospital. In 2011 she graduated from Edith Cowan University with a BA in Writing, Editing and International Cultural Studies. In 2013 Donelle relocated to Christchurch to complete an MA in English at the New Zealand Centre for Human–Animal Studies at the University of Canterbury.

NZCHAS Scholars' Work on 'De-Extinction' the Focus of New Journal Issue

The latest issue of Animal Studies Journal, one of the foremost international journals in the field of human-animal studies, features a focus on 'de-extinction', consisting of articles by four NZCHAS members:

Dr Douglas Campbell writes on 'The Authenticity of De-Extinct Organisms',

Dr Rosie Ibbotson's essay is on 'Visual Cultures of De-Extinction',

Dr Carolyn Mason assesses 'The Unnaturalness Objection to De-Extinction',

and Professor Henrietta Mondry discusses 'Mammoths, Lenin's Tomb, and Neo-Eurasianism'.


Mendel's Ark: Biotechnology and the Future of Extinction

NZCHAS member Dr Amy Fletcher has published a ground-breaking study of the ethical, cultural and social implications of using biotechnological tools to reverse the extinction of species.

Mendel's Ark: Biotechnology and the Future of Extinction
by Amy Fletcher 2014, VIII, 99 p. 10 illus.

Does extinction have to be forever?  As the global extinction crisis accelerates, conservationists and policy-makers increasingly use advanced biotechnologies such as reproductive cloning, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and bioinformatics in the urgent effort to save species. 

Mendel's Ark considers the ethical, cultural and social implications of using these tools for wildlife conservation. Drawing upon sources ranging from science to science fiction, it focuses on the stories we tell about extinction and the meanings we ascribe to nature and technology. 

The use of biotechnology in conservation is redrawing the boundaries between animals and machines, nature and artifacts, and life and death.  The new rhetoric and practice of de-extinction will thus have significant repercussions for wilderness and for society. The degree to which we engage collectively with both the prosaic and the fantastic aspects of biotechnological conservation will shape the boundaries and ethics of our desire to restore lost worlds.

Read more

Scholarship into the place of animals and human-animal relations in literature is one of the strongest focal points of research at NZCHAS.


Completed projects


Associate Professor Philip Armstrong (of the Department of English and the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies) has just published his latest book, a study of the natural and cultural history of sheep. The book is part of Reaktion Books' influential 'Animal' series.... [read more]

Listen to Philip's interview about the book with National Radio's Kim Hill here.

'A superb volume that more than meets the high bar set in the Reaktion Books Animal Series' -- Barbara J. King, TLS.

View the full TLS review of Sheep here.


Political Animals: Dogs in Modern Russian Culture

Political Animals: Representing Dogs in Russian Culture (Brill 2015), the latest book by Professor Henrietta Mondry (of the Departments of English and Russian, and the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies), has been reviewed at length and very positively in Slavic Review (75.1, Spring 2016, pp. 218-19), the foremost international journal in its field. The reviewer describes Political Animals as a “significant contribution to the growing field of animal studies”, and singles out for special praise the book’s “impressive range of scholarship”, its virtuoso investigation of a “diverse set of texts and contexts”, and its “particularly productive” exploration of Russian folk beliefs.

Read more


A New Zealand Book of Beasts: Animals in our History, Culture and Everyday Life

by Annie Potts, Philip Armstrong and Deidre Brown (Auckland University Press, 2-13). This book is the first comprehensive human-animal studies analysis of New Zealand's history, literature, visual arts, popular culture and everday life. 

The book is divided into four sections. Part One, 'Animal Icons' offers a history and analysis of the meanings associated with four 'totem' NZ animals: moa, sheep, dolphin and whale, Part Two, 'Companion Animals', provides a detailed history of 'pet' relationships from pre-European times to the present. In the third part, 'Art Animals', examines engagement with animals in a wide range of visual arts, focussing in particular on indigenous Māori traditions and on contemporary artists. And the final section, 'Controversial Animals', explores New Zealanders' complex and sometimes contradictory attitudes to animals we think of as 'pests', and those we farm for food.

'A New Zealand Book of Beasts ... will prove a treasure to anyone interested in an in-depth look at animals in New Zealand that goes beyond the stereotypes.' – Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, New Zealand Listener.


What Animals Mean

January 2008 saw the publication by Routledge of What Animals Mean in the Fiction of Modernity, by NZCHAS Co-Director Philip Armstrong.

What Animals Mean begins by examining the function of animals and animal representations in four classic novels: Robinson CrusoeGulliver’s TravelsFrankenstein and Moby Dick. The later chapters then explore how these stories have been re-worked, in ways that reflect shifting social and environmental forces, by later novelists including H G Wells, D H Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, Franz Kafka, Brigid Brophy, Bernard Malamud, Will Self, Margaret Atwood, Yann Martel and J M Coetzee.

Read the transcript of an interview with Philip Armstrong about this book on Australia's ABC National Radio.


Knowing Animals

The launch of NZCHAS coincided with the publication of a collection of essays in Human-Animal Studies called Knowing Animals edited by NZCHAS Co-Director, Philip Armstrong, and Laurence Simmons from the University of Auckland. The volume includes essays on animals in philosophy, literature, painting, environmental discourse, science, the circus, TV, cinema and popular culture. Contributors include Brian Boyd, Ian Wedde, Allan Smith, Helen Tiffin, Barbara Creed, Rick de Vos, Catharina Landstrom, Alphonso Lingis, as well as three NZCHAS members - Philip ArmstrongAnnie Potts , and Tanja Schwalm

For information contact:

In 1990 American scholar Carol J. Adams argued in her landmark book The Sexual Politics of Meat that it was through processes such as intensive farming and hidden slaughter, as well as through our use of terms that function to conceal the true nature of meat (for example, we refer to flesh from pigs as pork or ham (not pig), chicken meat becomes nuggets, and baby calves become veal) that we are afforded easier denial of the once active and feeling creatures whose lives have been terminated for culinary purposes. In other words, the cultural construction of meat and its methods of production enable various kinds of distancing from the actual animal from whom flesh is taken, obscuring the origins of meat and thereby facilitating its everyday use as food.

The projects and publications associated with this ‘research theme’ within the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies ask questions about ethical consumption and the dominance of meat culture in western societies (and particularly in Aotearoa New Zealand), the gendered nature of carnivory and vegetarianism, animal welfare and farming practices, and the modes of resistance to agriculture and animal exploitation emerging in our increasingly digitalized world.


Projects completed so far

Associate Professor Annie Potts (of the Departments of English and Cultural Studies and the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies) has edited a new book just published as part of Brill's highly-respected Human Animal Studies series. Entitled Meat Culture, the volume brings together new essays that examine the place and meanings of meat in Western societies. The first chapter, by Annie herself, introduces and conceptualises the idea of ‘meat culture’ within a wide historical and global context. Subsequent chapters, by thirteen other scholars from around the world, deal with topics as varied as hamburger ad campaigns, the European horsemeat scandal, live export, factory farming, horror fiction, environmentalism, nationalism, family life, xenophobia, gender, and popular culture..... [read more]

  • Philip Armstrong (2016). Sheep. London: Reaktion.
  • Kirsty Dunn, MA thesis in English. ‘Inherit the World, Devour the Earth: Representations of Western Meat Production and Consumption in the Contemporary Fiction. University of Canterbury, 2015.
  • Annie Potts and Jovian Parry (2014). Too Sexy for Your Meat: Vegan Sexuality and the Intimate Rejection of Carnism. In J. Sorenson (Ed.), Thinking the Unthinkable: New Readings in Critical Animal Studies. Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc.
  • Alison Loveridge (2013) Changes in animal welfare views in New Zealand: Responding to global change. Society & Animals 21(4): 325-340.
  • Annie Potts & Philip Armstrong (2013). Picturing Cruelty: Animal Advocacy and Visual Culture. In F. Probyn-Rapsey & J. Johnston (Eds.), Animal Death. University of Sydney.
  • Annie Potts (2012). Chicken. London: Reaktion.
  • Philip Armstrong (2011) Meat or Vegetables? New Zealand's Literary Sheep and Guthrie-Smith's Tutira. Journal of New Zealand Literature 29: 12-31. 
  • Alison Loveridge (2011) Farm Practices and Animal Welfare. New Zealand Sociology 26(1): 89-109. 
  • Philip Armstrong (2010) Moa Citings. Journal of Commonwealth Literature45(3): 325-339.
  • Annie Potts & Jovian Parry (2010). Vegan Sexuality: Challenging Heteronormative Masculinity through Meat-free Sex. Feminism & Psychology 20.1: 53-72.
  • Annie Potts (Ed) (2010). Feminism, Psychology and Nonhuman Animals. Special Issue of Feminism & Psychology, 20(3), August. 
  • Annie Potts (2010). Introduction: Combating speciesism in psychology and feminism. Feminism & Psychology, 20(3): 291-301.
  • Jovian Parry, 2010, The New Visibility of Slaughter in Popular Gastronomy. MA Thesis, Cultural Studies. University of Canterbury
  • Alison Loveridge. (2009) Farm children's understanding of animals in changing times: Autobiographies and farming culture. Australian Zoologist 35(1): 28-38. (Journal Articles) 
  • Jovian Parry (2009). Oryx and Crake and the New Nostalgia for Meat. Society & Animals 17.2: 241-56.
  • Annie Potts & Mandala White (2008). New Zealand Vegetarians: At Odds with their Nation. Society & Animals 16.4: 336-353.
  • Annie Potts (2008). Exploring Vegansexuality: An Embodied Ethics of Intimacy. Ethos: The Practical Ethics Blog. Http:// Posted March 9 2008
  • Philip Armstrong (2007). Farming images: Animal Rights and Agribusiness in the Field of Vision. In P. Armstrong and L. Simmons (ed.). Knowing Animals. Boston and Leiden: Brill, 2007, 105-108. 
  • Annie Potts & Mandala White (2007). Cruelty-Free Consumption in New Zealand: A National Report on the Perspectives and Experiences of Vegetarians and Other Ethical Consumers. Christchurch: NZCHAS.
  • Philip Armstrong (2006). SympathySatya, July 2006.
  • Philip Armstrong & Annie Potts (2004). Serving the Wild. In A. Smith and L. Wevers (ed.), On Display: New Essays in Cultural Tourism.Wellington , University of Victoria Press: 15-40. 
  • Henrietta Mondry (2003). What's in an “Incubator Chicken”? Gleb Uspensky on Hens, Eggs and the Mystery of Generation. Slavic and East European Journal 47: 2: 211-226. 
  • Alison Loveridge & Carolyn Morris (1998). "Participation and innovation on South Canterbury farms". Australasian Food and Farming in a Globalised Economy: Recent Developments and Future Prospects. Eds David Burch, Geoffrey Lawrence, Roy E. Rickson and Jasper Goss. Monash Publications in Geography. Number 50. 
  • Carolyn Morris, Alison Loveridge & JR Fairweather (1995). Understanding why farmers change their farming practices: The role of orienting principles in technology transfer. Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit Research Report No 232, 131p

Principle Investigator: Annie Potts



Annie has completed a book for the Reaktion Animal Series called Chicken, an illustrated natural and cultural history of Gallus gallus domesticus (pub. 2012).


  • Potts, A.K. and Forgan, S. (2013) 'Chicken Bestiary' in A. Rogers' and L.A. Watson's curated exhibition 'Uncooped: Deconstructing the Domestic Chicken'. National Museum of Animals and Society, Los Angeles, 11 May 2013 onwards (also online permanently). [Text and Charcoal Drawings].


Journal articles and chapters in edited books
  • Potts, A. and Armstrong, P. (2013) Picturing Cruelty: Chicken Advocacy and Visual Culture. In F. Probyn-Rapsey and J. Johnston (Ed.), Animal Death: 151-68. Sydney: Sydney University Press. 
  • Potts, A. (2012) The Joy of Chickens. In DeMello, M. (Ed.), Animals and Society: An Introduction to Human-Animal Studies: 56-59. New York: Columbia University Press. 
  • Potts, A. and Haraway, D. (2010) Kiwi chicken advocate talks with Californian dog companion. Feminism & Psychology 20(3): 318-336. (Journal Articles)


  • Potts, A. (2012) From Alectromancy to McNuggets: An Illustrated Cultural History of the Chicken. Sydney University: Animal Death, 12-13 Jun 2012. Invited Keynote. 
  • Potts, A.K. (2012) From reverence to ruination: Representations of Chickens and Poultry Farming in Contemporary and Activist Art. Milwaukee, WI, USA: Nonhuman: Conference of the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts (SLSA), 27-30 Sep 2012. 
  • Potts, A. (2011) Gallus Graphicus: Representations of Chickens in Contemporary and Activist Art. Christchurch, New Zealand: Cultural Animals: A 'Minding Animals' International Pre-Conference Event, 27 Sep 2011. 
  • Potts, A. (2011) With Respect to Chickens. Auckland, New Zealand: 22nd New Zealand Companion Animal Council Conference (NZCAC), 31 Oct-1 Nov 2011. Keynote.


  • Potts, A. (2013) Susan M. Squier's 'Poultry Science/Chicken Culture'. Agricultural History 87(2) Book Review. 
  • Potts, A. (2012) Foreword. In Urban Chicks: Celebrating Backyard Chooks in the City: 5-6. Auckland: Renaissance. 

Find out more about our research on UC Spark

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