Call for Papers for Special Issue
Animal Futurity: A Speculative Exploration of the Future of Human-Animal Relations
In her book, Animal Alterity: Science Fiction and the Question of the Animal, Sherryl Vint explains that we are as dependent in the 21st century on animal labor as we were in the 17th. Yet, she writes, “the use of animals in contemporary society is increasingly invisible: they are hidden away in laboratories and factory farms; slaughtered at mass disassembly plants and transformed into sanitized packages of meat; visible in mediated forms on Animal Planet or National Geographic television, but purged from city geographies” (Vint 2010, 1). The relative invisibility of the non-human animal (henceforth NHA) on the global stage implies unimportance, but this is a fallacy; like the offshoring of oil processes, this invisibility is often calculated, and subsists only at a surface level. Just as oil permeates our daily lives, so do non-human animals and their derivative “products.” As the future of humankind becomes increasingly fraught, what will happen to these NHAs with whom our lives are so intertwined? To answer this question, guest editors Nora Castle and Giulia Champion call for papers for a Special Issue that will address the submerging and objectification, as well as the excavation and re-animating, of the NHA in discussions of planetary futures.
As argued by Ursula Heise and Teresa DeLoughrey, among many others, humans are inextricable from a network of interspecies entanglements (Heise 2016; DeLoughrey 2015). NHAs have a profound influence on the human world. They are deeply implicated in a variety of pressing issues, such as climate change and global health. Zoonotic illnesses are perhaps most visible in the present moment, as the COVID19 crisis, popularly attributed to the consumption of a bat in Wuhan, rages on. In addition, as of 30th June 2020, a new strain of flu (G4EAH1N1) with “pandemic potential” originating from the swine industry has been identified in China (M. Roberts 2020). These illnesses are only part of industrialized agriculture’s impact, which, alongside the immense cruelty to the NHAs in its supply chain, includes both increased antibiotic resistance and significant greenhouse gas emissions (Witte 1998; Gerber et al. 2013; Goodland and Anhang 2009). On the other side of the coin, NHAs have historically been used as test subjects for a range of human applications, including disease prevention and vaccines. In addition, the intersection of NHAs and technology, especially biomedical technology, has a long legacy, from selective breeding starting in the 18th century to the contemporary development of in vitro meat (IVM) and beyond, prompting a variety of practical and ethical questions. Humans rely on NHAs for food, for research, for innovation and inspiration, for companionship, for entertainment, and more, but NHAs are also disappearing. The planet has already lost 60% of its biodiversity between 1970 and 2014 (“Living Planet Report 2018” 2018); we are in the midst of a Sixth Extinction which will affect the planet profoundly in ways we cannot yet imagine, and which we are already, in many cases, too late to change (Wake and Vredenburg 2008; Kolbert 2014). Recognizing this paradox, in which a human reliance on NHAs helps to create the conditions in which they become extinct, this Special Issue calls for papers focused on the future of the animal.
A plethora of work has been done on present and past relationships between humans and NHAs, and there has also been significant research into the intersection of animals and SFF, as evidenced for example by the Special Issue, “On Animals and Science Fiction”, in Science Fiction Studies. Drawing on this work in SFF, we foreground the term “speculative” in our interrogation, to show not only that cultural productions allow scholars and artists to consider crucial questions and possible solutions, but also to link our exploration to the world of financial markets. The speculations of traders and other professions objectifies NHAs and extra-human nature by commodifying these entities and assigning them continually changing abstract values to make profits. We draw on this SFF foundation to ask at once more broadly (in terms of genre) and more specifically (in terms of temporality) what the future of human-NHA relations, which we term “animal futurity” here, might look like. Do NHAs still exist? Do they exist merely as digitalized genomic sequences? Are they still in captivity or are they re-wilded? Are humans extinct and NHAs thriving? Are they technologized into new forms, à la Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake?
While novelists like Agustina Bazterrica (Tender is the Flesh, 2017) and Adam Roberts (Bête, 2014) and artists like Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr (Tissue Culture & Art Project, 1996-2008) have already begun this work of imagining animal futurity (or lack thereof), the future of the animal is also to be found in the marketing of alternative meats, the regulation of GM technologies, and other trades of NHA products. The editors therefore welcome papers that engage with any type of cultural and theoretical production implicated in the future of the animal from any subject discipline or interdisciplinary perspective, including literary studies, art and art history, philosophy, legal studies, biomedical sciences, media studies, anthropology, and more. Articles may engage with, but are not limited to, topics including:
- The Postanimal and/or NHAs and the Digital Turn
- Sixth Extinction narratives and/or NHAs in speculative fiction
- NHAs and the future of medicine and/or NHAs and global health
- NHAs and (the future of) food, including vegetarianism and veganism
- NHAs and pandemics, including COVID19
- NHAs and globalization
- NHAs and tourism (safaris, game parks, and natural reserves)
- Exhibiting extinction and (dead) NHAs (natural history museums, circuses, zoos, aquariums and taxidermy)
- NHAs and climate change
- NHAs in video games, performance, and film/TV studies
- NHAs and online virality through videos, pictures and gifs
- Tokenism and commodification of NHAs in (inter-)national discourses and as symbols
- NHAs, Ethics and Moral Rights
- Illegal poaching and the trade of NHAs on the black market
- Domestication of non-domestic/wild NHAs
Please submit a 250-300 words abstract by 7th September 2020 bearing in mind that resulting research articles should be between 5,000 and 9,000 words (including title, abstract, notes and references), with 1.5 spacing and left-justified text, submitted in 12pt Times New Roman font following the Chicago Manual of Style with American spelling and formatting. Following acceptance of abstracts, we will submit the proposal to a selection of journals. We are aiming to submit full-length articles for this Special Issue by 1st March 2021.
The following information must accompany any submission:
- Author’s title, name, affiliation and position
- Article’s title
- 5 to 8 keywords
- A brief biography (up to 100 words)
- Permissions for any images used, if relevant.
- Copies of any relevant ethics clearances and disclosure of funding, if relevant.
- An acknowledgement that the work has not been previously published and is not under simultaneous consideration elsewhere.