I will be making my presentation ‘Animal Liberation: Moral Crusade or Political Movement?’ The conference celebrates the 40th anniversary publication of Animal Liberation by Peter Singer and explores the issues it raises.
Animal Rights Explained
What does animal rights mean? Is it the same as animal welfare? How different are moral rights and legal rights? Which organisations should I support? Is being a vegan compulsory? Bring your questions, along with your tips on how to be a more effective campaigner, to this interactive workshop.
The mission of Minding Animals International is to advance animal studies worldwide. Every three years we partner with a like-minded organisation or a university to co-produce an international conference for scholars, advocates, policy makers, artists, veterinarians, and others. By ‘we’ I mean me, as volunteer Executive Director, and my colleague Rod Bennison, founder and chair of the board, as well as all the other directors.
The first conference (‘MAC1’) was in Newcastle, Australia in 2009 and attracted 520 delegates from 23 countries. In 2012, MAC2 was produced in partnership with the Univeristy of Utrecht and was attended by 690 delegates from 42 countries.
Discussions are already underway for MAC4 in 2018. Details will be announced later this year.
The MAC3 six-day conference program reflected the trans-disciplinary nature of animal studies. The program included special events, plenaries, workshops, and plenty of opportunities to network.
At the Pre-Conference Interfaith Programme and Multi-Faith Prayer Service at Baha’i House of Worship, Lotus Temple, representatives from the Hindu, Christian, Islam, Jain, and Baha’i faiths spoke about their respect for animals. It ended with me making some closing remarks. The irony!
Keynote presentations were made by Government of India Ministers Maneka Gandhi, Minister of Women and Child Development and Shri Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change. I recall when we were at MAC2 in Utrecht, Vivek Menon, WTI’s Founder and CEO, said he wanted to host MAC3 because the will help to put animal studies on the map in India. Vivek’s dream maybe coming true as there was a discussion among the government minister’s of the possibility of federal government funding for an animal studies centre on the JNU campus. Clearly, this major development needs to be carefully monitored to ensure its fruition.
The program was full and diverse thereby reflecting the richness of animal studies. For example, Lori Gruen gave the first Marti Kheel Memorial Lecture. Other speakers included Will Kymlicka, co-author, Zoopolis; Jill Robinson, Animals Asia; Lisa Kemmerer, author, Animals and World Religions; and Clive Phillips, author, The Animal Trade. A particular focus of the conference was on differing aspects of animals in India. For example, Raman Sukumar spoke about ‘Gajatame and Ganesha: the sacred elephant of Asia’ and Norma Alvares and Varda Mehrotra, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, led a seminar on ‘Building a Movement for Animal Protection: The Experience from India.’ I also presented my paper about Topsy, the ‘elephant we must never forget.’
One of MAC3’s unexpected successes was an impromptu presentation I had to organise as one of our plenary speakers, Mahesh Rangarajan, was unable to join us at the last minute. Following on from the previous day’s panel which I chaired that was organised by Ken Shapiro, my fellow co-founder of the Animals and Society Institute, which considered the state and future of animal studies and included Lori Gruen, Colin Salter, Joe Lancia, Donald Broom, and Sandra Swart, I commissioned a panel of young animal studies scholars. This panel consisted of Upasana Ganguly, Jessica Ison, Yuan-Chic Lung, Kelsi Nagy, and Adam See. Each one rose to the challenge with 24 hours notice to speak about how they understood animal studies and saw the challenges they face in the field. Rod and I feel strongly that at MAC4 we would like to invite these scholars back as a panel to assess how things have progressed (or not!).
MAC3 was very successful. Among the many highlights was hearing speak for the first time the legendary Maneka Gandhi, who berated Indian governments for not doing enough for animals. It was encouraging to be told by delegates how much they valued the conference. Many spoke about making friends with others coming from different countries who share like-minded interests. I recall one delegate expressing delight at discovering a colleague from their university who was also interested in animal studies. This anecdote truly represents for me the strength and mission of Minding Animals International: to advance animal studies globally.
MAC3 also gave me my first opportunity to visit India—a country I had always wanted to visit. But this was no time for sight-seeing, which had to wait to afterwards. The post-conference tour will be the focus of another post here.
Here are links to what others said about MAC3:
Dr. Siobhan O’Sullivan is Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).
My animal studies year got off to the perfect start when I attending Minding Animals 3. Having attended the first conference (which was also the third Australasian Animal Studies Association conference in Newcastle, Australia) and then the second in Utrecht, it was my great pleasure to be at the third.
Dr Fiona Probyn-Rapsey is a member of the Human Animal Research Network (HARN) at the Sydney Environment Institute and a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney.
The conference covered six full days, each with 6 concurrent sessions, keynotes and invited talks. The papers were mostly social science/humanities oriented and the ones that were from the more science-y side were clearly committed to entering into interdisciplinary dialogue. To me, that represents a real maturing of the field – we’re getting more accustomed to having our work heard and discussed by those outside of our disciplinary homes.
Please email with any others to share!
Now that I’m at the end of the second week of my three week trip to the USA, it’s time for a further update on my activities. For example, in New York City I:
- Spoke about animal rights to some 60 students at Pace University in two Ethics in the Work Place classes and one Animal Law class with Professors Len Mitchell and David Cassuto respectively
- Met with and called ASI supporters and colleagues from the animal rights movement
- Got together again with Mariann Sullivan and met for the first time Jasmin Singer from Our Hen House, who took me to a fundraising event in support of Mercy for Animals called Art of Compassion
- Recorded a radio interview with Caryn Hartglass for her radio show, Real Radio
- Filmed an interview with Nancy Kogel of Reaching Out for Animal Rights for a documentary she is making
- Met with attorneys David Wolfson and Sarah Griffin from Milbank about Minding Animals International
- Spoke to a packed room of some 100 people at Bluestockings radical bookstore to launch the new anthology, Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth edited by Carol Adams and Lori Gruen (Bloomsbury) along with Carol and fellow contributors pattrice jones and Sunny Taylor
I left New York City Friday afternoon for Baltimore for the second stage of my six-city, three week itinerary. My next update will focus on my activities in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington DC during this week. On Saturday, I leave Baltimore for the final stage in my itinerary in Portland, ME and Boston, which I will also share with you later.
The collectively-owned radical bookstore and cafe, Bluestockings, is hosting a reading and book signing for Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth edited by Carol Adams and Lori Gruen (Bloomsbury). The editors along with the contributors Sunaura Taylor, pattrice jones, and Kim Stallwood will read and discuss the anthology and the issues it raises.
A pleasure from Growl I didn’t anticipate is receiving feedback from readers. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did think about negative comments and how I should react to them. Of which, I’m pleased to say I haven’t received any ….. yet! So, the favourable comments come as a very pleasant surprise, which goes along with the kind reactions I’m receiving from the public readings and talks I’m currently making. One comment from someone who asks to be known as ‘Ireene V’ has given me her permission to share it with you here.
We met at the animal rights conference in Luxembourg. Me and my husband bought your book and you asked as to send you a feedback after reading it. I did read it and liked it very much. I liked that it was written on a personal level, not just theoretical. Although it is important to read theoretical works about animal rights, from time to time one just needs to hear about personal stories and struggles to know how to cope better, to know that someone else has had a similar experience, that someone else has felt the same. So thank you for that! After leaving the conference I woke up next morning and went straight to the Misanthropic Bunker. I haven’t really experienced that before but the contrast between the “real world” and the atmosphere of the conference was too much to handle. I started reading the “Growl” and it helped me address these feelings. I also appreciated the history and the background information of British animal rights movement. I am very interested in history of veganism and animal rights. I share your view on non-violence. I think it is extremely important that animal rights movement differs from animal abusers and violence should not be accepted. As I don’t have any companion animals I haven’t felt that magical connection with animals yet. I do hope to experience it someday. I am sorry there are too many thoughts to write down coherently. But all and all I do think it is an important book and I do hope people will read it. I am definitely going to recommend it to my friends.
In six weeks time on Thursday, October 30 I will be in New York City as the guest of the Animal Studies Initiative at New York University making a presentation about Growl and the issues that I raise in my book. This date marks the beginning of a three-week working visit to the East Coast of the USA.
My recent Indiegogo campaign helped to raise the funds needed to make possible the following itinerary. I want to express my sincere thanks to everyone who generously contributed. Thank you!
- Thursday, October 30: Animal Studies Initiative at New York University
- Friday, October 31: Interview with Caryn Hartglass of REAL Radio
- Tuesday, November 4: Professor David Cassuto’s Animal Law Class and Professor Len Mitchell’s Business Ethics Class at Pace University
- Wednesday, November 5: Second Professor Len Mitchell’s Business Ethics Classes at Pace University
- Thursday, November 13: Lunchtime presentation with Alley Cat Allies staff, volunteers and trustees in Bethesda, MD
- Thursday, November 13: Evening public presentation at Busboys & Poets in Washington, DC
- Friday, November 14: Morning meeting with Dawn Moncrief, A Well-Fed World
- Friday, November 14: Afternoon presentation with ASPCA’s Washington DC office staff
- Saturday, November 15: Evening presentation hosted by Maine Animal Coalition at University of Southern Maine
- Sunday, November 16: Eventing presentation to Boston Vegetarian Society at the vegan Grasshopper Restaurant
- Monday, November 17: Evening reception hosted by GREY2K USA Worldwide at their offices in Arlington
Additional dates to my itinerary are being finalised. Please visit the Events section on this website to keep up to date with the latest news and information.
Please know your generous support of my Indiegogo campaign also helped to make possible my presentations at the following:
And between now and leaving for the USA in six weeks, I will be also speaking at:
- Book Buster in Hastings (look for their page on Facebook)
- London Vegfest
- 2nd Annual Humanities in Public Festival at Manchester Metropolitan University
- Inaugural launch conference of the Centre for Human Animal Studies at Edge Hill University
I will be back in touch soon with further updates, including announcements about book clubs reading Growl and more public events.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re interested in me speaking in your area or working with you on your animal rights campaigns.
Thank you for doing all that you do for the animals!
The presentation that I made at the recent International Animal Rights Conference in Luxembourg is now available to watch. It was called ‘Animal Witness’ at the conference but is given the name ‘Why Animals and Their Well-Being Matter to Us’ on YouTube but more importantly it reflects the essence of what I have to say in Growl.
To watch my presentation from the IARC 2013, please click here.
To learn where I will be presenting in the future, please visit Events on this website.
For more information about the IARC, please click here.