In his 1998 book My Name is Red, Orhan Pamuk exclaimed that “dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen”. After microbes, dogs are the closest species to humans. We lament the lack of a shared language and think that if we could understand them, speak to them, listen to them, we could reach a superior natural harmony, but our relationship with dogs is defined by a deeper power binary. Dogs are treated as companions, pets, guides, workers, members of the human society, and, for many, also as an oppressed class of beings to whom basic rights are denied. In this salon, we will talk about dogs as a way to discuss otherness in a largely anthropocentric and unbalanced world. Considering forms of symbiosis as well as dominance, we will explore how and if humans can engage in a deconstructive process and design a better existence for and with others.
Some of the questions we will strive to answer: How does our relationship with dogs illuminate our attitude towards the natural world? What perspectives on the dynamics of dominance, oppression, and exclusion, can the human relationship with dogs reveal and how does this relate to contemporary ideals of the progress of civilization? How have humans constructed their relationship with dogs over time? Should humans be allowed to view dogs as property? Do humans grant dogs and other species enough rights? Are humans morally entitled to do as they want with dogs and other animals, to use them, limit their freedom, and train them for the purposes of entertainment, safety, spying, etc.? Is “pet” a disrespectful term? Does our built environment take other species, domesticated and non, into account? How can humans overcome their incapacity to comprehend animals? Can non verbal communication with dogs extend the boundaries of language? How can artists help recover the communication between human and animal as an integral part of a new, environmentally motivated social movement? What are ways for respectful co-existence? How can we decolonize our relationship between species? Versus / in relation to other species? Are dogs inherently the most domesticated or subservient species? Does domestication assume subservience? Intelligence, empathy? By what methods do humans enlist dogs for control, or even torture? Through what strategies and justifications are dogs used as tools to maintain power? Can a dog become a symbol of power? Of evil? How do we make this shift? What effects, if any, do robodogs and other roboanimals have on our relations with living species? Why dogs?
This salon took place on February 10th, 2020.
Alexandra Horowitz is a professor at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she teaches seminars in canine cognition, creative nonfiction writing, and audio storytelling. As Senior Research Fellow, she heads the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard. Her most recent book, Our Dogs, Ourselves explores aspects of the unique and complex interspecies pairing between humans and dogs.
Henrik Werdelin is an entrepreneur, author and the co-founder of BARK, America’s fastest growing pet company. BARK specializes in designing toys and accessories, creating products and experiences that satisfy each individual dog’s distinct personality and preferences. Using education, technology, and volunteerism, they pledge to serve as the voice for dogs in a human-led world.
Young Woo is a real estate developer, designer, founder and principal of Youngwoo & Associates. Based in New York City since 1979, Young Woo & Associates, are known for developments such as the Sky Garage and Pier 57 in Manhattan. Woo is currently designing a complex of dog friendly apartments in Chelsea, New York City.
Will Rawls is a choreographer, performance artist, curator and writer. Rawl’s work explores the relationship between dance and language through the prisms of blackness, abstraction, and opacity. Recent publications include Dog Years (2014), Leap of Fake: Speculations on a Dance as Doubting (Scores 4, Tanzquartier Wien), and Mirror Mirrored: A Contemporary Artist’s Edition of 25 Grimm’s Tales.
Bénédicte Boisseron is an Associate Professor of Afroamerican & African Studies at the University of Michigan. Her most recent book, Afro-Dog: Blackness and the Animal Question draws on recent debates about black life and animal rights to investigate the relationship between race and the animal in the history and culture of the Americas and the black Atlantic.
Jack Halberstam is a Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and English at Columbia University. Halberstam is currently working on a book titled Wild Thing, on queer anarchy, performance and protest culture, the visual representation of anarchy and the intersections between animality, the human and the environment.
Dr. Greger Larson is the Director of Palaeogenomics & Bio-Archaeology Research Network at the University of Oxford. His research interests include evolutionary genomics, ancient DNA, domestication, human & animal dispersal, and phylogenetics.
Aki Inomata is an artist and designer. Focusing on how the act of “making” is not exclusive to mankind, Aki Inomata develops the process of collaboration with living creatures into artworks. She presents what is born out of her interactions with living creatures as well as the relationship between humans and animals.
Lori Gruen is the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University where she coordinates Wesleyan Animal Studies. She is also Professor of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Science in Society. Her research lies at the intersection of ethical theory, political philosophy, and social practice.
Sarah Mayorga is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her research interests are racial and ethnic inequality, urban neighborhoods, and Latinx migration. Her current research agenda focuses on whiteness and power within multiracial spaces.
Kade Crockford is the Director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts. Crockford works to protect and expand core First and Fourth Amendment rights and civil liberties in the digital 21st century, focusing on how systems of surveillance and control impact not just the society in general but their primary targets—people of color, Muslims, immigrants, and dissidents.
Claire Jean Kim is Professor of Political Science and Asian American Studies. Kim is the author of the book, Dangerous Crossings: Race, Species, and Nature in a Multicultural Age, and her research interests are comparative race studies, race theory and politics, social movements, human-animal studies.
Revital Cohen is a designer and researcher. She develops critical objects and provocative scenarios exploring the juxtaposition of the natural with the artificial. Her work spans across various media and includes collaborations with scientists, animal breeders and medical consultants.
Maneesha Deckha is Professor and Lansdowne Chair in Law at the University of Victoria. Her research interests include critical animal studies, animal law, critical food studies, postcolonial theory, feminist theory, health law, and reproductive law and policy.
HUMAN PONDERS ANIMAL
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MORE THAN COMPANIONSHIP – MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS IN THE ABYSS OF NON-COMPREHENSION
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HUMAN SUBJUGATES ANIMALS: AGENCY AND RIGHTS
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CIVIC (MIS)MANAGEMENT – DOGS AND THE PUBLIC
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DOGS AS POLITICAL SYMBOLS
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RACIALIZING ANIMALS & ANIMALIZING HUMANS
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COEXISTING, DESIGNING FOR, DESIGNING WITH (ANIMALS) DOGS
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ROBOTIC PETS/ ANIMATRONIC DOGS
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DOGS AS DIVAS
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DOGS IN ART AND HISTORY
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