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Human-Animal Studies Newsletter
April 2020
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to the current issue of the Animals & Society Institute's Human-Animal Studies e-newsletter. 

First, I hope you and your loved ones are all healthy, safe, and weathering the pandemic situation as best as you can. Things are stressful and uncertain for us all, and we want to help with that. Toward that end, I’m restructuring the HAS E-news for a time in order to provide relevant, credible information and analysis regarding how the COVID-19 is affecting animals and our relationships with them.

It is important to hold in mind that the coronavirus is called “novel” for a reason. We have never experienced this virus, and we are scared—for ourselves, our loved ones, our communities, and the animals of the world. We crave information, and are anxious to share it with others. But the extent of our knowledge is changing daily. This means that what we think we know one day might change dramatically the next. Because social media is so powerful, it is crucial to take a measured approach to the exchange of information, in order to insure what we are passing along is both timely  and  accurate. 

Wild animals:
One instance of misinformation that arose this month were stories of wildlife bouncing back, running free and returning to places now sparsely inhabited by humans under lockdown. But while swans and dolphins returning to canals in Venice and elephants strolling through Asian villages might give us a moment of respite from our situation, in these instances  the stories weren’t true

Travel restrictions and social distancing efforts are keeping people home, but that is having  both positive and negative impacts on wild animals . Encouraging examples, for instance, show  critically endangered sea turtles in Brazil  and  in India  are now hatching at higher rates due to deserted beaches. However, travel restrictions and social distancing have  caused problems for street animals worldwide who rely on humans for food, although  people are stepping up to help.

Companion animals:
News circulated this month of isolated cases of pet dogs and cats testing positive for COVID-9, spawning questions and concerns that pets might have the potential infect humans. 

According to three credible expert sources, there is no evidence that pets can spread the COVID-19 virus to people. Both the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  and the  Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine  see no evidence that companion animals can spread the novel coronavirus to people. And as of April 19, the   American Veterinary Medical Association   note that they have no information that suggests that pets might be a source of infection for people with the COVID-19 virus.

The issue here is more about keeping  pets  safe—if we are ill, we should be concerned with infecting our pets. Pet owners with COVID-19 should avoid contact with their animals as much as possible, including wearing a face covering while caring for them.

In other companion animal news, the Institute for Human-Animal Connection has compiled a  list of COVID-19 considerations for companion animals , and RedRover has published a  list of emergency resources for people and pets that includes emergency funding for veterinary care, boarding, pet food, and educational resources, among others.

Social isolation:
Shelters continue to empty  as  adoptions spike . But this raises concerns about the lives of the animals adopted once quarantine efforts cease. Some  shelters fear that large numbers of pets will be returned . It’s also probable that if not directly abandoned, many  newly adopted pets will feel abandoned  once their adopters return to work.

Along these lines, the distressed, edgy and untethered feelings we have because of stay-at-home orders have fostered positive discussions aimed at sharing empathetic awareness  of the ways such isolation and confinement might similarly affect the animals in our care —including companion animals , zoo animals, animals in laboratory research, and those raised as products under intensive livestock practices. All of these issues deserve more attention and discussion.

The issue of “wet markets”:
Finally, a great deal of attention has focused on identifying the possible origin(s) of the COVID-19 virus. Initial consensus seemed to be that the virus originated in Wuhan, China in a “wet market” at which live wild and farmed animals are sold for food. More recent research notes this is far from certain. As pointed out in  this article  analyzing the issue of the wet-market origin of the virus, “analysis of the first 41 Covid-19 patients in  medical journal the Lancet  found that [only] 27 of them had direct exposure to the Wuhan market. But the same analysis found that the first known case of the illness did n ot.”

While the question of the origin of the virus remains uncertain, it has most certainly spurred positive discussion about the human use of animals in these ways. At the same time,  wet markets “have been portrayed as emblems of Chinese otherness, ” with the outcome of a growing number of xenophobic attacks against Asians and the Chinese. This  thoughtful piece in Earth Island Journal  points out the complex concerns that are often lost with narrow, unidimensional calls to close these markets, and argues that rather than pushing for a closure of China’s wet markets we should focus instead on getting wild and exotic animals out of what are essentially the Eastern equivalent farmers' markets.

The closure of wet markets is certainly a red flag issue for animal advocates. (And indeed, recent polls show that 97 percent of Chinese citizens are now strongly against wildlife consumption .) Given the unintended consequences some of these recent calls have caused, we might consider carefully if our advocacy could be used to promote culturally insensitive narratives that could be misconstrued to endorse xenophobic actions, and look instead for ways to stimulate positive outcomes for both animals and people.

Here at ASI, we recognize that COVID-19-related information is fluid and changes with each day. Our goal is to curate the most reliable COVID-19 animal-related information—highlighting the positive and dispelling inacurate information that has the potential to harm animals and people. We will continue to follow scholarly and expert sources, unbiased media, and social commentary about how these issues affect both animals and people. Now, as always, we want to ensure that both animals and people are staying safe. 

I hope you all stay healthy and well! As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.


P.S. Assume that events noted within this HAS E-News are in flux. Although I have left calls and notifications for conferences in the newsletter, with travel restrictions, quarantines and lock-downs, many organizations have cancelled or postponed academic conferences. We assume we will see more of this. I suggest you contact the conference organizers to ascertain whether or not gatherings of interest will occur.

Editor’s note: The HAS e-newsletter is organized as follows: Jobs, grants, and calls are ordered chronologically by deadline dates, with the earliest first, and will continue to be posted until the deadlines expire.

Please send your submissions to: , and if at all possible include a URL link to your project or announcement. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions!


Check out the fabulous scholarship in current issue of  Sloth: A Journal of Emerging Voices in Human Animal Studies!

Sloth   is ASI’s online bi-annual journal that publishes international, multi-disciplinary writing by undergraduate students and recent graduates that deals with human/non-human animal relationships from the perspectives of the social sciences, the humanities, and the natural sciences.  Sloth  showcases the important and innovative contributions of undergraduates, giving those who are interested in human/non-human animal relationships a way to contribute to and engage with the field, as well as an opportunity to build their skills and knowledge. 
We’re certain we’ll be hearing more from the authors featured in this issue!

We are also pleased to announce that the latest issue of the  Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science (JAAWS)  is now out! Sponsored by ASI, JAAWS  is the leading peer-reviewed journal on the science of animal welfare for veterinarians, scientists and public policy makers. It presents articles and reports on practices that demonstrably enhance the welfare of wildlife, companion animals and animals used in research, agriculture and zoos.

JAAWS Vol. 23, No. 2 , includes the following articles:

Companion Animal:
Jessica Anderson, Sara Kaplan-Stein, Stephen Adolph & Jose M. Peralta

Nicole P. Schafer & Mark Farnworth

Manja Zupan, Ivan Štuhec & Dušanka Jordan

Pakkanut Bansiddhi, Janine L. Brown, Chatchote Thitaram, Veerasak Punyapornwithaya & Korakot Nganvongpanit

Jack Lewton & Paul E. Rose

Courtney S. Vail, Diana Reiss, Philippa Brakes & Andrew Butterworth

M.C. Burkemper, M.D. Pairis-Garcia, L. E. Moraes, R. M. Park & S. J. Moeller

Mohammad Rashedul Alam, Md. Jahirul Islam, Al Amin, Amir Hossan Shaikat, Md. Ridoan Pasha & Rebecca E. Doyle

Angela Guijarro, Soledad Mauri, Carmen Aviles & Francisco Peña

Jacek Wasilewski, Małgorzata Szczepanik, Zbigniew Burski & Sławomir Juściński

HAS News and Opportunities

The Kerulos Center for Nonviolence is offering a new online course, which begins June 7, 2020, on indigenous research methodologies and animal studies research titled “ Takin' It to the Feet: Nonhuman Nature Research Methods .” Taught by Gay Bradshaw and Margo DeMello, it’s an eight-week course that will help students and scholars to incorporate animal and indigenous perspectives into their research and writing. 

A podcast by Mariann Sullivan and Jasmin Singer at Our Hen House featured continuing efforts to manage daily life as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and an interview with ASI’s Executive Committee member, Jeff Sebo, on  centering animals in climate change policies.

HAS scholars Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, Siobhan O’Sullivan and Yvette Watt are conducting  a survey about the field of Animal Studies  (also known as Human Animal Studies, Critical Animal Studies). They ask for the participation of scholars—including research higher degree students (PhD and Masters), and academic staff at Universities/Colleges and independent scholars—who are familiar with and work within Animal Studies. The survey builds on a similar study conducted in 2015 by the same researchers. Let’s help them out and find out more about the state of the field!

Another survey is looking at the  how COVID-19 might be impacting the relationships we have with our dog . This research is specifically looking for people who are over the age of 18 and are currently the primary caretaker of at least one dog. If you meet these qualifications, please consider taking the following short (~10 minute) anonymous survey. Any questions about the survey can be directed to Lori Kogan ( ), chair of the Human-Animal Interaction section of the American Psychological Association.

UK equestrians are invited to contribute their perspectives to  this research-project survey  that aims to improve the welfare of horses in the UK by investigating UK equestrians' perspectives on horse ownership, behaviour and training. 

Funding and Job Opportunities

VetVine®—an accredited online continuing education provider for veterinary professionals and educational resource on pet health topics for pet care professionals and owners—is searching for a  Virtual Pet Loss Support Facilitator . As an extension of supportive services to veterinary professionals, VetVine® is developing an online, virtual pet loss/grief support service to which veterinarians can refer their clients. They are seeking individuals with experience in pet-related grief counseling and support to serve as facilitators of real-time virtual support sessions. No deadline noted.

The Animal Legal & Historical Center at Michigan State University is offering five $1,000  summer research grants for 2020 . Under our grant program, students are assigned topics and they draft a paper for posting on the website along with relevant primary legal materials. The commitment is to a minimum of 100 hours to be completed before August 15, 2020. We will take applications from any student enrolled in an ABA US law school (or Canadian). Contact Professor David Favre: . Closing date May 5, 2020.

The  Tiny Beam Fund Spring/Summer 2020 Fellowships  are open for Applications. The fellowships, ranging from $15,000 to $25,000, are meant primarily for academic researchers (including independent scholars) interested in helping to address negative impacts of global industrial food animal production (especially in low- and middle-income countries). There are no restrictions as to applicants’ residence / citizenship / location.  The application process runs through May 11, 2020.

The National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg, Virginia is accepting applications  for the 2021 John H. Daniels Fellowship Program. The fellowship program serves to promote awareness of, and innovative scholarly use of the institution's unique collections focused on equestrian and field sports. The ideal applicants are researchers who wish to use the NSLM's collections in support of original scholarship and who have plans for publication. Fellowships are awarded for two months or less. The maximum stipend is $2000 per month.  Deadline for the application is June 15, 2020.

New Books

Following are some of the books out this month that we are excited about!

Colling, Sarat. 2020.  Animal Resistance in the Global Capitalist Era . Michigan State University Press.

Alex Blanchette. 2020.  Porkopolis: American Animality, Standardized Life, and the Factory Farm . Duke University Press. 2020).

Calls for Proposals: Book Chapters

The editors of a volume ”Developing feminist animal studies: critical perspectives on food and eating” have issued a  call for chapter proposals . This volume advances feminist approaches in critical animal studies (CAS), exploring the cultural and structural oppression of non-human animals and possibilities for changing their condition from critical feminist perspectives, and focussing on analyzing human–animal relations in the context of food production, consumption and politics. This volume offers an opportunity to consider how contemporary feminisms can inform CAS in the context of food and eating, thus offering novel insights into the development of feminist animal studies. For question or to submit an abstract (maximum 250 words) contact Kadri Aavik at   by May 31, 2020.  

Calls for Papers: Journals

The  Social Sciences & Humanities Open  journal has issued a  call for papers, dealing with Coronavirus and Society , asking for reflective contributions on the impact of COVID-19, and the changes we may expect to see going forward. Both empirical research – such as it may be conducted in these times – and (shorter) theoretical and critical commentaries on the longer term – and present - implications of the coronavirus will be considered. Although not specifically mentioned, this might be an opportunity to address animal-related issues. All APCs will be waived for accepted papers submitted  before April 30, 2020.

The Human Animal Interaction (HAI) Section of the American Psychological Association has issued a call for papers for a special issue covering “Therapies Incorporating Horses to Benefit People: What are They and How are They Distinct?” Please direct any inquiries (e.g., suitability, format, scope, etc.) about this special issue to the guest editor: Wendy Wood The deadline for manuscript submittal is November 30, 2020.

Calls for Papers: Conferences
and Workshops

This year’s “Animals in Literature and Film” panel at the Midwest Modern Language Association’s annual meeting (November 5–8, 2020 in Milwaukee, WI) invites papers engaging the conference’s theme of “Cultures of Collectivity,” for the session “Ecological Communities: Animal Neighbors in Literature and Film.” For more information, contact Margaret Day Elsner ( ).  Deadline is April 30, 2020.

Students and young professionals in science, humanities and the arts working on marine mammal conservation, welfare and rights are invited to submit abstracts for the Student-Advocacy Session at the Superpod 7 conference, July 20-24, 2020, Friday Harbor, Washington, USA. Contact Dr. Lori Marino  or Mariah Kirby, Deadline is May 15, 2020.

The 2020 Northeast Popular Culture Association (NEPCA) Conference Special Session on Animals and Culture with the Animals and Society network has issued a  call for papers dealing with the multifaceted roles and representations of animals in popular culture . The conference will be held at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, New Hampshire, October 23-24, 2020.  Proposals are due June 1, 2020.

A call is out for  presentations for a panel on “Pathogenic entanglements and multispecies encounters: what narratives for what responsibilities?” at the forthcoming  Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK & Commonwealth Annual Conference,  ASA 2020: RESPONSIBILITY, which will take place at the University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Scotland, 24-27 August 2020. Abstract: The One Health agenda seeks to redress excessive anthropocentrism in disease-management but creates new biopolitical hierarchies of pets and pests. What responsibilities—as causality and accountability—are framed and contested in narratives of pathogenic multispecies entanglements? Contact: Rosie Sims ( ) or Emmanuelle Roth ( ).


Save the date: The Faculty of Kinesiology of the University of New Brunswick is hosting a two-day conference on Sport, Animals, Ethics, May 26-28, 2021. Paper proposals will be welcomed from all disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Watch for the Call for Abstracts in October 2020. For more information, contact Gabriela Tymowski-Gionet  and Sam Morris .

Save the Date: The Minding Animals— Animals and Climate Emergency Conference  (ACEC) conference and events will be held over 22 to 29 July, 2021, in Sydney, Australia, in a central Sydney city venue. A conference registration website and the call for abstracts will appear mid-year. In the meantime, please see  for further information. For information, please contact Rod Bennison at  

Meetings, Conferences and Presentations

Below are upcoming meetings and conferences for which the submission deadlines have passed, or for which submissions were not requested. Again, given the COVID-19 situation, please contact the conference conveners to confirm the conference is still being held. 

Vegetarian Epiphanies. From Realization to Changing Eating Habits. April 16-17, 2020,  Rennes ,France, and May 28-29, 2020,  Santa Barbara , California, USA.

Animaterialities: The Material Culture of Animals (including Humans).  Sixteenth Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars. April 24–25, 2020, University of Delaware.

Animals on the Mind 4.0:  Humane Communities: Diversity, inclusion and welfare in human-animal-environment interactions , May 14-15, 2020, University of Denver, Colorado. 

The Inaugural Conference of the North American Association for Critical Animal Studies (NAACAS) with the theme  Critical Animal Studies in an Age of Mass Extinction  will take place May 27-29, 2020, University of British Columbia Okanagan.

As you can see, there is a tremendous amount of activity and progress going on today in the field of Human-Animal Studies, and we always invite your input and participation. Your donation to the Animals & Society Institute will enable us to continue to expand the field in many more ways and work in conjunction with others around the world who share these goals.

Thank you for supporting our Human-Animal Studies efforts!

Gala Argent, PhD
Program Director