"All Things Great and Small" Promises to be Truly Interdisciplinary

Sometimes the word “interdisciplinary” is more an aspirational than an accurate label in academic work, but “All Things Great and Small: Interdisciplinary Interspecies Community,” taking place on Saturday, Nov. 15, and Monday, Nov. 17, will be a campus event that is truly worthy of the word.

The ability to draw interest from a variety of fields is not surprising, considering the event is being mounted by the UC Davis Interdisciplinary Animal Studies Research Group, whose invited speakers last year included scholars in philosophy as well as a visiting researcher from Finland who works in production animal medicine.

This fall’s conference speakers include artists, veterinarians, professionals who work with animals, philosophers, animal welfare activists, creative writers, and literary and historical scholars, to name a few. The keynote speaker, Frans B. M. de Waal, is C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior and Director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes Primate Center, Emory University and will give a talk entitled “Prosocial Primates: Empathy, Fairness, and Cooperation.”

One of the primary organizers for the conference, Ted Geier, a PhD candidate in the Comparative Literature Department, explained that the conference goal is “to represent the rich history of animal studies and the diverse new inquiries and problems the field continues to generate.” Geier also commented on the conference’s potential to build “new connections between research communities that have not always had the chance to negotiate the differences in their fields in productive ways.”

The impact of the animal studies conference will be felt in a field that is defined, in Geier’s words, by the “incredible intellectual and personal generosity of the entire list of participants and the deep commitment to research collaboration within the field and here among the many individuals, departments, and other contributors supporting the conference.”

Aside from the panels and talks, the conference will offer a number of different opportunities to engage with the exciting ways that animal studies is being pursued here on campus and by the research group.

The conference will include the screening of the new documentary Canine Soldiers, a film that explores the close relationship between military handlers and their working dogs, as well as guided tours of the California Raptor Center and ARK 2000, a 2,300-acre animal rescue facility in San Andreas, CA.

For even more details on the conference, including locations and a schedule, click here: www.nonhumans.org

And you can register for the conference here: http://conferences.ucdavis.edu/confreg/?confid=715


Katja Jylkka, DHI Graduate Student Researcher and doctoral student in English