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Speaker series highlights the role of animals in human culture
Date:1/19/2011

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Animals are food, but they are also companions. They are beasts of burden but they also inspire poets and painters. We use them as metaphors for everything from faithfulness (the loyal dog) to the ridiculous (silly goose), the industrious (busy bee), the outcast (black sheep) and the impotent (lame duck). They are property and yet they are worthy of societal protection from abuse.

A series of public events sponsored by the Center for Advanced Study explores these animal-related themes and more in a series of events this spring. "Knowing Animals: Histories, Strategies and Frontiers in Human/Animal Relations," will explore the latest developments in animal law and wildlife protection, celebrate the search for the origin of species, delve into the social life of chimpanzees and survey evolving ideas of "animal personhood."

"This initiative is part of a whole wider international movement to ask the question in every discipline, not just the obvious ones such as biology or zoology, 'What if we put animals into the equation?' " said University of Illinois anthropology professor Jane Desmond, who chairs the multidisciplinary steering committee that planned the events.

The movement, called simply "animal studies" or "critical animal studies," explores the overlapping disciplines of scientists who study animal physiology and behavior with those who look at the role of animals in history, law, religion, philosophy, language and the visual and performing arts, Desmond said.

"Of course zoologists and biologists have been doing animal studies forever," she said. "But the questions are different and the conversations are even more interdisciplinary than within the sciences because they cross the humanities and the social sciences and the arts."

This series began in the fall of 2010, with talks by

Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

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