Australasian Animal Studies Association

BASN Online Meeting: Animal Borderlands

BASN Online Meeting: Animal Borderlands

BASN will be online for the meeting ‘Animal Borderlands’ –

Session 1 – ‘Living in the Borderlands’ – Friday 18th September

Session 2 – ‘Narrating, negotiating and performing border crossings’ – Friday 25th September

Session 3 – ‘The human-animal interface’ – Friday 2nd October

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Animal Borderlands

Borderland. n.

A district near the line separating two territories.
An area of overlap between two things.

Borderlands are places of meetings and of partings, of gatherings and divisions, as well as of edges, outsides and interiors. While dominated by a spatial imaginary, borderlands need not be limited by it: borderlands are also transitions, moments where things and phases mix, liminal states. Borderlands abut frontiers, which are often sites of persistent struggles.

Within animal studies, and amongst scholars in the social sciences and humanities who engage with the question of the animal, animal borderlands take many forms. Animals form the basis of metaphysical enquiries as to the nature and limits of the human, inspiring artistic interrogation and response; they can unsettle Western notions of nature as somehow distinct from the social, and bring into question familiar categorisations of species and spaces, domestic/wild, food/pet/pest, native/alien; they cross established political and regulatory limits in the form of invasive species and vectors of disease; they highlight but also question attributions of value, for example in the form of endangered, charismatic and keystone species; they bring into question our own value systems and the moral and ethical frameworks which underpin them; and they signal the limits of human and animal co-existence through ongoing processes of marginalisation and biodiversity loss.

In this meeting, we want to explore the many dimensions of animal borderlands, conceptually and empirically. While there is a long history of reflection on the boundary between human and animal, there are numerous other kinds of animal borderlands. We ask questions such as:

• How do animals and humans together live in, pass through, defy, shape, and constitute borders and borderlands?

• What kinds of animal borderlands are there, and what could a borderland experience be?

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