Friday 23 June
15.30-17.00hrs – drinks after (please register)
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Our final event of this academic year focuses on non-human animals. Animal Studies is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field that explores relations between humans and other animals now and in the past. Our speakers from the fields of philosophy, photography and theology will explore questions of animal agency and the relations between humans and animals in three presentations. The three lectures are followed by a panel discussion between the speakers and the audience. You are warmly invited to stay for a drink and continue the discussion after the event.
Political Animal Voices
Eva Meijer will introduce us to her work on a theory of ‘political animal voice’. The view that nonhuman animals cannot be political actors because they cannot speak is common in both philosophical tradition and political practice. This view seems to be false in two respects. It refers to a flawed conception of political agency and, second, it ignores the fact that animals clearly do communicate, with each other and with humans. Seeing animals as mute does not simply reflect a misunderstanding of their capacities: it is interconnected with the way humans have defined language and politics and has led to rendering animals silent as a political group.
Eva Meijer is a visual artist, philosopher, novelist, and singer-songwriter. She is rounding off her PhD research in Philosophy, entitled ‘Political Animal Voices‘ at the University of Amsterdam, where she also teaches. She is the chair of the national OZSW working group on animal ethics, and of Minding Animals Nederland. Her popular science book Dierentalen (animal languages, 2016) explores the languages of non-human animals, and questions the nature of language. Her third novel Het vogelhuis (the birdhouse) also appeared in 2016. An essay based on her PhD thesis will appear in September, entitled De soldaat was een dolfijn. Over politieke dieren (The soldier was a dolphin: on political animals).
Julie Hrudová has been following the herons in Amsterdam for several years now. These freshwater birds have made Amsterdam their home. They forage for food at the markets, in parks, the Zoo, the streets. Julie Hrudova will be showing her pictures, focusing on the ways in which the herons have integrated in the urban life of Amsterdam, and how they interact with the people in the city.
Julie Hrudová is a portrait and documentary photographer born in Prague and now based in Amsterdam. Her series Those Dam Birds: The Urban Herons of Amsterdam was recently published by The Guardian.
Eva van Urk
Religious animals and animals in religion
va van Urk will explore the way contemporary religious believers and theologians deal with ‘animals’ in their religious texts. How do they understand and interpret the presence of other animals in the divine stories? How do they conceptualize the relations between them and these other animals? How is the subjectivity of other animals being recognized? She will also highlight contemporary religious rituals that specifically involve domestic animals.
Eva van Urk is a Junior Fellow in Ethics of the Anthropocene at the Faculty of Theology, Vrije Universiteit Amstredam. She studied applied psychology as well as theology and religious studies. In her upcoming PhD-project she will study the dynamic interactions between religious and secular narratives on human-animal relations in the context of the moral debate on living in the Anthropocene.