Economies of Death & Livable Lives (2014-present)
This ongoing collaborative project with Patricia Lopez began with the curation of a series of conference sessions on the theme of “Economies of Death” at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers. As a theoretical framework, “economies of death” draws attention to economic logics that render some lives killable and others grievable in hierarchies of power. Integral to this framework is a consideration of conceptions of living and dying that span across and beyond the human experience to include nonhuman lives, deaths, and ecologies.
Building on these conference sessions, we co-edited a book on these themes called Economies of Death: Economic Logics of Killable Life and Grievable Death, published by Routledge in 2015. This book brought together scholars from the social sciences and humanities to explore case studies of human and nonhuman processes of killing and dying to introduce economies of death as a framework moving forward. At the upcoming 2016 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, we plan to continue this conversation through a panel discussion that explicitly tries to develop economies of death as a theoretical intervention.
Implicit in the question of what makes some lives killable is an underlying question of what makes a life livable. What is it precisely that is lost or stripped away when a life is made killable? How can we theorize not just killability, but also livability, in human and nonhuman contexts? Thus, the next phase of this collaborative project is an exploration of what makes for a livable life in this broader context of economies of death.
Multispecies Care and Poverty Politics (2015-present)
A collaborative project with Victoria Lawson (Geography Professor and the Director of University Honors Program, UW) on interspecies relationships of care between homeless persons and their dogs. We are in the early stages of this research and are working on our first paper that analyzes “My Dog is My Home,” a Los Angeles-based art-activist project that explores human-dog homelessness. Our work aims to draw links between the affective connections in human-dog relations and between homed and homeless persons. Integral to this project is an exploration of the ways in which certain lives are viewed as disposable – ungrieved and unnoticed. With a commitment to challenging this conceptualization of both homeless and animal life, we are interested in understanding how we move from affect to politics, emotion to political subjectivity. This project dovetails with the work of the Relational Poverty Network, co-convened by Victoria Lawson and Sarah Elwood.
University of Washington Critical Animal Studies Working Group (2009-2016)
As co-founder/co-organizer of the UW Critical Animal Studies Working Group, I am involved in organizing speaker series, film screenings, workshops, and public events related to nonhuman animals, human communities, and ecological systems. The Working Group has partnered with the Simpson Center for the Humanities at UW to host two year-long research clusters: 1) Animals, Violence, Justice (2010/2011), and 2) The Postcolonial Animal (2014/2015). The Working Group is currently collaborating with the Comparative History of Ideas Program’s Collaborative Learning and Innovative Pedagogies Fellows to curate conversations over a two year period (2015-2017) on the topic of “Food, Environmental and Multispecies Justice.”
From the Working Group’s Website: Founded in 2009, the Critical Animal Studies Working Group is a consortium of faculty, students, staff and Pacific Northwest community members interested in examining critical perspectives on relationships between humans, nonhuman animals, and ecological ecosystems. Emphasizing the consequences that many scientific, agricultural and commercial activities have on human and nonhuman lives, we are concerned with exploring intersectional and intertwined futures of many species, including our own. We are especially attentive to curating conversations that thoughtfully and critically bring conversations about species, race, gender, sexuality and other forms of perceived difference into the same frame.
With this mission in mind, the Working Group hosts public lectures, academic workshops with guest lecturers, student and faculty writing workshops, and film screenings. Through these activities, we aim to expand, enrich and create new spaces for public dialogue over the place of humans and nonhumans in society. Though our group is located at the UW and committed to bringing animal-related questions to various units across campus, we have a broad notion of community which guides our efforts to develop connections with community organizations, activists, and intellectuals.
Food, Environmental and Multispecies Justice: Collaborative Learning and Interdisciplinary Pedagogy Fellowship (2015-2016)
Comparative History of Ideas Program (CHID), University of Washington; Fellows: Kathryn Gillespie, David Giles, Nancy White
From CHID’s website: Graduate student instructors and part-time faculty have always played a crucial role in the creation and maintenance of the vibrant learning community that is CHID. In recognition of this, the CHID Collaborative Learning and Interdisciplinary Pedagogy (CLIP) Fellows Program was created to support their participation in innovative, collaborative teaching and research that incorporates faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students in a diverse learning community organized around a central theme. The 2015-15 academic year will be its inaugural year. Through the CLIP program, David Giles, Kathryn Gillespie, and Nancy White will teach two classes per year and engage in extracurricular activities focused on the theme of “Food, Environmental and Multispecies Justice.”
In these classes, students will think critically and carefully about how capitalism, racism, sexism, classism, and ecological degradation are (re)produced in society through food and our relationships with animals and the environment. Students will critique the global agricultural industrial complex, animal slaughterhouses, extractive practices like fracking and mining, and other violent agricultural and environmental practices. They will also examine resistance movements and struggles for justice, and evaluate whether they serve to perpetuate the existing system, suggest modest reform, or open pathways for radical systems transformation. They will study food and environmental justice issues at various scales, from the individual human and animal body and local Seattle-based organizations, to U.S. national policies and discourses and the global corporate food regime and resistance movements. Students will engage with literature and film, examine and articulate their own personal ethics and politics, and participate in and reflect on on-the-ground activism and alternatives. The CLIP courses for 2015-16 will be the following:
CHID 250: Exploring Human and Nonhuman Animal Bodies in Literature and Film (with N. White & K. Gillespie)
CHID 480: Life in Excess: Waste, Want, and the Politics of Surplus (D. Giles)
CHID 250: Animals, Environment, Food and Justice (K. Gillespie)
CHID 250: Eating in the City: Food, Ethics, and the Urban Environment (D. Giles)
CHID 490: Food for Thought (N. White)