March 17, 2017

People

Current Fellows

Omar Bachour
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Omar Bachour is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Philosophy funded by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Scholarship working on questions of alienation and community. In his doctoral project, he argues that any credible theory of alienation applies equally to nonhuman animals. Hence the community designed to overcome that alienation must necessarily include the latter. His other interests include the history of the Left vis-à-vis ‘the animal question’; the relation between systems of animal exploitation and global capitalism; and literary, as well as poetic, representations of animals that prefigure a human-animal community of equals. (14ob@queensu.ca)

Charlotte Blattner
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Charlotte Blattner was the 2017-18 Postdoctoral Fellowship in Animal Studies at Queen’s University Department of Philosophy. During her postdoctoral fellowship, she examined the concept of animals as workers, and whether labour rights can provide a route towards greater legal protection, not just for companion animals, but also for animals used as commodities in agriculture, research and entertainment industries. Charlotte is currently a senior research fellow at the “Tier im Recht” Foundation in Zurich, Switzerland, and teaches at the Institute for European Studies in Basel, Switzerland. She completed a PhD summa cum laude at the intersection of international law and animal law, focusing on the extraterritorial protection of animals, as part of the doctoral program “Law and Animals: Ethics at Crossroads” at the University of Basel, Switzerland. Dr. Blattner is a former Visiting International Scholar at Lewis & Clark Law School, and has authored numerous publications in animal law, trade law, environmental law, and articles on agricultural and research policies, effective altruism, and cognitive biases in the law. (ch.blattner@gmx.ch)

Frédéric Côté-Boudreau
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Frédéric Côté-Boudreau is a Ph.D. student in Philosophy at Queen’s University and also recipient of a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship. His interests cover issues at the intersection between political philosophy — especially liberalism — and animal ethics. His thesis is focusing on the concept of autonomy applied to animals. Indeed, with its strong reliance on rational revisability, the traditional conception of autonomy not only excludes animals from the right to shape their lives, but might also lead to perfectionist implications on how one ought to lead one’s life in general. In other words, this understanding risks to preclude even humans from the right to make personal choices if those choices are simply based on emotion or instinct without rational endorsement. A more open definition of autonomy, one that allows for a diversity of ways to shape one’s life as long as one does not significantly harm oneself, seems needed as much for humans (including children and people with intellectual disabilities to some extent) as for animals. Through this investigation, Frédéric hopes to address questions such as: Do animals have the right to make personal choices, the right to be free, and the right to not be dominated, manipulated, and controlled? If those rights are granted, is it feasible and desirable to build a mixed human-animal community that allows and helps citizen animals to make autonomous choices without being dominated? Furthermore, in what cases is paternalistic intervention acceptable, for animals and humans? Apart from his thesis, Frédéric is exploring questions regarding distributive justice and domesticated animals, as well as the debate between new welfarism (or gradualism) and abolitionism. Frédéric is also active in the Québec animal rights movement and maintains a popular French-language blog at coteboudreau.com. (frederic.cote-boudreau@queensu.ca)

Sue Donaldson
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Sue Donaldson is an independent author and researcher. She is co-author (with Will Kymlicka) of Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights. Her current writing is focused on expanding and deepening the book’s model of human-animal relations based in conceptions of citizenship, denizenship, and sovereignty. She is also interested in practical applications of this model, especially in relation to the rapidly expanding farmed animal sanctuary movement. Can sanctuaries be forms of ‘intentional community’ creating a space for exploring inter-species justice? Donaldson is also interested in animal rights as a political movement, and on strategies for effective advocacy based in social, political and psychological research that examines barriers to (and opportunities for) social change. (sld8@queensu.ca)

Samantha King
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Samantha King is Professor of Kinesiology and Health Studies and Head of Gender Studies at Queen’s University. Broadly speaking, her research focuses on the embodied dimensions of consumer culture; her specific interests range from the racial politics of basketball to the philanthropic breast cancer movement. Her curiosity about animal studies was prompted by a growing number of graduate supervisees with an interest in extending theories of “the body” beyond the human. Noticing that conversations with these students frequently returned to the subject of food, together they began crafting a collaborative project on eating animals. Alongside Dr. Elaine Power, a Food Studies scholar, and graduate students Scott Carey, Isabel Macquarrie, and Victoria Millious, she is interviewing animal studies scholars about the relationship between their theoretical work and their personal food practices. The goal of this research is to develop new insights about how complex ideas are lived and to explore how the daily, intimate, and visceral practice of eating may enable or constrain thinking and writing about human-animal relationships. A related project seeks to construct a political ecology of protein powder by tracing the “contentious synthesis” (Sarmiento, 2013) of animal and human bodies in the production of a food commodity that was developed, primarily, as a vehicle for managing agricultural waste. (kingsj@queensu.ca)

Will Kymlicka
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Will Kymlicka is Canada Research Chair in Political Philosophy at Queen’s. His current research focuses on “The Frontiers of Citizenship”, and in particular on struggles to extend norms and practices of citizenship to historically excluded groups, ranging from children and people with intellectual disabilities to indigenous peoples and animals. All of these cases challenge inherited ideas of what defines the attributes of a (good) citizen, and in much of the popular debate and academic literature, attempts to extend citizenship to these groups is often seen as somehow diluting the fundamental values of citizenship. His work disputes this view, and seeks to show how these struggles for inclusion deepen citizenship in Canada and elsewhere. His paper on “Animals and The Frontiers of Citizenship” (co-authored with Sue Donaldson) was presented as the 2013 HLA Hart Memorial Lecture at Oxford University, and has been published in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies. (kymlicka@queensu.ca)

Christine Overall
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Christine Overall is a Professor Emerita of Philosophy and holds a University Research Chair at Queen’s University. Her primary focus in animal studies is on problems of creating life and causing death. The former include issues in reproductive ethics: questions about the propagation and sterilization of animals, the genetic manipulation of individual animals and species, the potential for the creation of chimeras, and the survival and destruction of species. The latter include issues in the philosophy of death: questions about whether death is bad for animals, whether premature death is bad for them, and whether animal lives should be prolonged. She is the editor of Pets and People: The Ethics of Our Relationships with Companion Animals (Oxford University Press, 2017). (cdo@queensu.ca)

Mick Smith
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Mick Smith is jointly appointed between the School of Environmental Studies and the Department of Philosophy at Queen’s. His current work (funded by a SSHRC Insight grant on ‘Ethics, Politics, and Ecological Community’) is focused on developing a radically different understanding of ecological community. This involves re-conceptualizing the gap between scientific understandings of community ecology, which focus on providing external, ‘objective’, descriptions of ‘natural’ processes and relations in particular places, and humanist accounts of what it means to belong to ethical and political communities regarded as culturally constituted only within and between human beings. Ecological and ethical/political theory currently fail to speak to each other in very fundamental ways (epistemologically, methodologically, ontologically) when it comes to trying to understand the diverse relations between beings that might actually create and sustain communities that are both ecologically and ethico-politically constituted even as they are marked by ineradicable differences between individuals, populations, and species. This work further develops and extends ethical and political themes in his recent Against Ecological Sovereignty (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) and links to his involvement in the Extinction Studies Working Group, the new journal Environmental Humanities and his role as a founding editor of Emotion, Space and Society (including editing a special issue on Emotion and Ecology). He teaches two courses in the Philosophy Department which intersect with some aspects of critical animal studies: PHIL 293 Humans and the Natural World and PHIL493/893 Environmental Philosophy, and supervises graduate students in allied areas. (ms24@queensu.ca)

Nga-Yin Tam
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Agnes Tam is a Ph.D. candidate at Queen’s Philosophy and a recipient of Hong Kong’s Sir Edward Youde Memorial Overseas Honorary Fellowship. Her doctoral research works at the intersection between political philosophy and social epistemology. It explores how humans collectively achieve moral learning in a non-ideal world where rationality is constrained by cognitive bias and relations of domination. While it applauds the “epistemic egalitarian model” of moral learning in correcting moral bias arising out of relations of domination, it argues that it is insufficient in correcting social bias arising out of our peer relations governed by social norms. Unlike moral bias, it argues that social bias can be morally benign, socially rational and practically valuable. Hence it need not and ought not be purged indiscriminately. The challenge is to overcome only those problematic social biases embedding moral bias. To that end, Agnes develops an “epistemic inegalitarian model” of social learning and reconciles its tensions with moral egalitarianism. The goal of the research is in part to enable moral learning of human-animal relations beyond the uses of hypothetical reason and democratic reason, and understand and defend the rationality and morality in non-deliberative and non-democratic means of activism. Prior coming to Queen’s, Agnes completed her LL.B. at University of Hong Kong and M.Sc. in political theory at London School of Economics and engaged in international animal advocacy. (13nyt@queensu.ca)

Lauren Van Patter
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Lauren Van Patter is a PhD student in Geography at Queen’s, working with Dr. Alice Hovorka and The Lives of Animals Research Group. Her SSHRC CGS funded research examines human-coyote relations in urban areas of southern Ontario. It draws on the more-than-human/animal geographies and multispecies studies scholarship and is grounded in a feminist-posthumanist approach. Her research engages interdisciplinary methods to explore the experiences of coyotes and humans dwelling in multispecies communities, and opportunities for enhanced coexistence. Lauren is also working with members of the Kingston Interspecies Community (KISC) research group on a project investigating the lives of animals at farmed animal sanctuaries.

Past Fellows

Gillian Crozier
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Gillian Crozier is a Professor of Philosophy at Laurentian University, and a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Environment, Culture and Values. In 2012, she co-founded Laurentian’s Centre for Evolutionary Ecology and Ethical Conservation, which brings together scientists and humanities scholars to address thorny questions regarding environmental conservation and species extinction. Her research lies in the philosophy of the life sciences, including bioethics and the philosophy of biology; ongoing projects include a multidisciplinary investigation of the ethics of ecological research, as well as a study of cultural evolution using computer simulations of bird song transmission. During her 2017-18 sabbatical (which brings her to Queens University), her research is focused on a SSHRC-funded project “Chimpopolis” (lead by PI Letitia Meynell and co-applicant Andrew Fenton, both at Dalhousie University), which explores the implications of Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka’s Zoopolis for chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates living in research laboratories, zoos, and sanctuaries.

Alice Hovorka
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Alice Hovorka is Professor in Geography and Environmental Studies at Queen’s University. Her research broadly explores human-environment relationships and is theoretically informed by feminist, poststructuralist and posthumanist philosophical perspectives. Her work on the Lives of Animals in Botswana, funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant (2012-2016), explores how animals, as central actors, are embedded discursively and materially in the fabric of human lives, landscapes and development trajectories in Botswana in order to further understanding of human-animal relations in Africa. The work is grounded in the sub-discipline of Animal Geography, which focuses on the complex encounters between humans and animals within broader politico-economic, socio-cultural, spatial and environmental contexts. At the same time, the work reaches across disciplinary boundaries, bridging social with natural sciences to ensure comprehensive and insightful research results that are meaningful for both human and non-human animals. Her team works with government and non-governmental entities, as well as local communities in Botswana so that research results contribute to the development and operationalization of appropriate program and policy interventions. Case studies include chickens, cattle, donkeys, wild dogs, elephants, and community dogs in Botswana, and feral cats in Canada. See The Lives of Animals Research Group. (alice.hovorka@queensu.ca)

Josh Milburn
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Josh Milburn was the 2016-2017 Postdoctoral Fellowship in Animal Studies in the Queen’s University Department of Philosophy. He is researching the ethics and politics of human relationships with nonhuman animals through a consideration of the philosophy of food and eating, with a particular focus on nonhuman animals’ own diets. He is interested in the normative questions which are raised, for instance, by the feeding of companions and garden birds, especially in contrast to the completely different questions which are raised by the consumption practices of those nonhuman animals whom humans feed entirely by accident. Before beginning his research at Queen’s, he completed a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast with a thesis entitled The Political Turn in Animal Ethics. His research on animal ethics has been published or is forthcoming in Res Publica, the European Journal of Political Theory, Journal of Social Philosophy, Environmental Values and a number of edited collections. Email: josh.milburn@queensu.ca; website: https://queensu.academia.edu/JoshMilburn

Angie Pepper
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Angie Pepper was the 2015-16 Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Animal Studies at Queen’s University. Angie completed her PhD in June 2013 at the University of Sheffield on feminist approaches to global justice and the need for a gender-sensitive cosmopolitanism. Her work on global justice prompted Angie to think about the problematic anthropocentrism that frames the mainstream discourse on what we owe one another globally, and what we are entitled to do with the Earth’s resources. Since humans are not the only animals capable of suffering as a result of human action or inaction, and since other animals also have a basic interest in securing the resources necessary for survival, questions of justice cannot be limited to interhuman relations. Consequently, Angie’s current research is shaped by her commitment to the thought that the lives and interests of all sentient animals must be taken as central to our thinking about global justice. She is especially interested in exploring how the inclusion of non-human animals within mainstream accounts of global justice reveals tensions and inadequacies within those positions, and in thinking about what global justice demands for all animals living on Earth. Moreover, Angie is looking at how the interests of non-human animals might be incorporated within models of cosmopolitan democracy and how they can be best represented at the global level in the absence of transnational democratic institutions and practices. (angie.pepper@queensu.ca)

Katherine Wayne
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Katherine Wayne completed her PhD in September 2013; her dissertation is titled “Toward a Virtue-Centred Ethics of Reproduction” and she was supervised by Christine Overall, Department of Philosophy, Queen’s University. She then completed a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship with Will Kymlicka in the area of animal ethics. Specifically, Katherine’s work examines the morality of bringing domesticated animals into existence, either with human intervention or through animals’ own volition. Animal rights scholars often assume that domestic animals have inviolable rights and that humans have a duty of care towards them as dependents. Yet it remains a legitimate question as to whether domestic animals can be incorporated into the community in a way that ensures their living good lives. Equally pressing is the question of whether domestic animals introduced into the community will impede the well-being of others. Thus the morality of domestic animal reproduction in a mixed and interdependent community is open to scrutiny. The following questions inform Katherine’s research: What are the conditions of permissibility and desirability of bringing domestic animals into existence? And how does the dependence of animals on humans shape our obligations to them and the nature of their rights, in regard to reproductive behaviours? She also considers policy-guiding implications that these theoretical conclusions may have in terms of the way Canada manages (some subset of) its domestic animal population. (katherine.wayne@queensu.ca)

Zipporah Weisberg
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Zipporah Weisberg was the Abby Benjamin Postdoctoral Fellow in Animal Ethics in the philosophy department at Queen’s University from 2013 to 2015, after completing her Ph.D. in Social and Political Thought at York University. Her dissertation drew on the early Frankfurt School’s critique of the instrumentalization of reason and nature and the technologization of consciousness to critically examine the ideological infrastructure undergirding the apparatus of violence against nonhuman animals in late modernity. She is also interested in the contribution that existential phenomenology can make to animal ethics and politics. For example, in “The Simple Magic of Life: Phenomenology, Ontology, and Animal Ethics,” published in the fall 2015 issue of Humanimalia, Zipporah focuses on how Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s explorations into animal subjects as embodied, perceptually-attuned, world-making beings provides a welcome alternative to Peter Singer’s reductive ontology (and ethics) of animals as suffering bodies. Current projects include a chapter on Animal Assisted Intervention and citizenship in a volume on animal companionship (forthcoming from Oxford University Press), and a chapter on the importance of reinventing Left Humanism beyond the human, for a volume on political theory and animal rights (eds. Andrew Woodall and Gabriel Garmendia da Trindade). Other publications include, “The Broken Promises of Monsters: Haraway, Animals, and the Humanist Legacy” (Journal for Critical Animal Studies, 2009), and “Biotechology as End Game: Ontological and Ethical Collapse in the ‘Biotech Century'” (NanoEthics, 2015). (zipporah.weisberg@gmail.com)