13 October 2004: 'Animal Matters : Or, why animals matter to feminism' by Lynda Birke (in English)
(ga naar de Nederlandse tekst)


A theme night about the connection between feminism and animals/animal rights. Dr. Lynda Birke, expert and author of many books and articles about these themes came all the way from Lancaster (UK) to explain 'why animals matter to feminism'.

We will try to put Lynda's digital presentation on-line soon, but for now you can already download the schematic overview of the lecture (Word-doc).

Abstract of Lynda Birke's talk:

In this talk, I will first ask why feminism should pay more attention to nonhuman animals (and why people concerned about nonhuman animals should pay attention to feminism).

Ecofeminist and animal rights activists often see connections between women/gender and nonhuman animals. Yet, the feminist theory produced in women's studies seems rarely to do so, even when it focuses on science, which is my particular concern. I want to ask - what does science tell us about nonhuman animals, and what has feminism got to say?

Feminism connects to animal issues in science in various ways. These include:
the practices of science - feminists have for over a century been critical of the way that science uses bodies (human or nonhuman) - for example, through vivisection;
scientific knowledge, particularly the underlying belief in objectivity, with its associations with masculinity;
the contradictory beliefs that nonhumans are both similar to us and dissimilar, so that nonhuman animals are seen as pure biology in ways that humans are not (animal behaviour, for instance, is part of biology; human behaviour is included in biology only seldom).

Feminists have written about all these questions. But these are usually from a perspective highly critical - and outside - of science. So, finally, I want to draw on ideas from science (about animal consciousness and subjectivity) which enable us to emphasise animal agency. This, I will argue, is an important move for feminist theory, for theorising human/animal relationships, and for activism.

Lynda Birke
A biography and bibliography of Lynda Birke can be found on the website of the Center for Digital Discourse and Culture.

Animal behaviour, relationship (non)human animals & feminism (please let us know when you know of organisations closer to home)
Website of Feminists for Animal Rights (US & Australia)
Website of Carol J. Adams, author of 'The Sexual Politics of Meat'
Organisation founded by Marc Bekoff and Jane Goodall: Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (includes some interesting books on animal behaviour) (US)

Books & articles
A biography and bibliography of Lynda Birke can be found on the website of the Center for Digital Discourse and Culture.
Lynda Birke regularly publishes artciles in the magazine Society & Animals, accessible (mits betaling) via the website of Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
A recent article (title: 'Animal Performances') of Lynda Birke, Mette Bryld en Nina Lykke appeared in Feminist Theory (Sage, August 2004, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 167-183) (read an abstract).

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