18th North American Conference for Critical Animal Studies

18th North American Conference for Critical Animal Studies

Dr. November 2, 2019
Salt Lake Community College
Miller Campus
2nd Floor
PSET Building
Sandy, Utah, USA
Room: TBA
Free and Open to the Public



10:00am to 11:30am
Intersectionality and Animal Advocacy
1. Unincorporated Activist Networks: Reflections on the Securitization/Criminalization of Activism and Organizing in Increasingly Authoritarian Times
Cassidy Thomas

ABSTRACT: The nonprofit sector has historically been framed as a mechanism through which individuals could organize and affect positive change within their local communities and abroad. However, since the 1980s, many incorporated nonprofit entities have found themselves increasingly wound up in grips of a neoliberal capitalism and the state apparatus— both of which have proven themselves exceptionally effective in co-opting the work of well intentioned individuals and criminalizing the work of those who prove difficult or impossible to co-opt. A reflection on these dynamics is increasingly valuable in times of increasingly populist and authoritarian tendencies. With neoliberalism capitalism having proved itself exceptionally capable of co-opting the work of nonprofit corporations, and the United States increasingly bending to authoritarian dynamics that are amendable to the further securitization/criminalization of activism, how and where might activists find space to organize and affect meaningful change in their communities and beyond? How might broader cultures and networks of resistance come into being and find ways to sustain themselves? This presentation that reflects on some of the historical and current sociopolitical dynamics that impact community organizing and activism will seek to spur discussion that helps us answer these questions. To help illustrate these dynamics , the activism and criminalization of Food Not Bombs—an anarchist influenced movement that consists of decentralized, autonomous chapters across six continents—will be considered in a variety of contexts.
BIOGRAPHY: Originally from Boise, Idaho, Cassidy Thomas is a scholar-activist and graduate of Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah involved with a variety of local activist endeavors. Over the past several years, his research/activist passions have focussed on the political economy of global/local food systems, Food Not Bombs, and the social ecology of resistance. His work and activism are often informed by anarchist and (eco)marxist perspectives. His published writings can be found in Perspectives on Global Development and Technology, the Undergraduate Journal of Global Citizenship, and a forthcoming edited volume titled Anarchist Political Ecology: Natures of Emancipation.
2. Tools for Teaching Public Activism in the Humanities
Jessica Holmes

ABSTRACT: This conference presentation will discuss approaches to teaching public activism in the humanities–with specific regard to animal rights and environmental activism, but with the intent to provide an adaptable interdisciplinary framework for fellow instructors and educators. This framework encourages instructors and students alike to investigate the relationship of scholarship to activism, advocating for pedagogical tools that encourage inquiry into and study of activism. As teachers across the humanities increasingly foreground collaboration and intersectional, interdisciplinary dialogue in their classrooms, and in the midst of the current global climate crisis and the youth-led strikes occurring across the world, college students repeatedly express a desire for institutional opportunities to “do” more, to be more “active” in applying what they learn, and to discuss both public and personal accountability (and how to achieve more of it). Students—especially those who are not engaged in anything they consider to constitute “activism”—struggle with how to get involved in their community. Particularly in animal studies, environmental justice and human rights classes, they are being asked to digest potentially traumatic content and to engage in discourses of crisis, but do not always feel sufficiently empowered as individuals or as a community to begin to tackle such problems, or alternatively they approach those problems without employing the imaginative and critical thinking skills taught in humanities programs (skills this presentation argues would better equip them to evolve their activism productively). Teaching public activism in the college classroom presents an opportunity for students to more deeply understand and engage in their community, to harness institutional tools and resources at their disposal, and to productively combine practices of hope, resilience and empowerment with those of critical thinking and scholarly analysis.
BIOGRAPHY: Jessica Holmes is a Ph.D. candidate in English Language and Literature at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she teaches in the Interdisciplinary Writing Program. Her research areas include environmental humanities, contemporary poetry and vegan studies. She is a 2019 Mellon Fellow for New Public Projects in the Humanities. She received a Master of Fine Arts in poetry from the University of Washington (2015) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English from Lewis & Clark College (2011). Her creative and critical work has been published in TRANSverse Journal, West Trade Review, and Auto/Biography Studies. Jessica served as the Assistant Director for the University of Washington in the High School program and co-founded the Teaching Workshop on Environment at the University of Washington. In her spare time, she participates in public-facing environmental and animal rights advocacy online and in the Seattle area.
3. Ecofeminism as a Counter to the Root Causes of Speciesism 
Kiana Avlon

ABSTRACT: Speciesism—the belief that human-animals are superior to non-human animals—results in the domination and violence of othered bodies and the environment. This belief system is underpinned by root causes including, but not limited to, anthropocentrism, patriarchy, and rationalism, which hierarchically arrange one type of identity or way of knowledge as superior to others. This presentation investigates these root causes to shed light on the historical context and the current implications in the animal liberation movement. Whether it is Francis Bacon’s description of nature as the “common harlot” or Kant’s ideal of rationality devoid of emotion and intuition, these ideologies continually shape the prevalent view that humans, specifically white, cishetero males of European origin/descent, have dominion. Furthermore, anthropocentrism, patriarchy, and rationalism inform dominant economic and political systems fueled by the commodification and assault of nature and bodies. Ecofeminism offers a powerful framework to counter the root cause of speciesism as this theory studies the overlap of the oppression of womxn and nature. Understanding the role of ecofeminists, who center their work on the inclusion of non-human animals, is crucial to unlearn hegemonic beliefs and to adopt alternative ways of co-existing with other beings within ecological systems at large.
BIOGRAPHY: Kiana Avlon is a current graduate student at Westminster College in the Master of Arts in Community Leadership program. She has presented research on the rhetoric surrounding houselessness in Salt Lake City this year at the Western Social Science Association conference and continues to study rhetoric as it pertains to speciesism. With a focus on the root causes of speciesism, Kiana grounds her research in ecofeminism, critical animal studies, and anarchism with the goal of total liberation. She dedicates time to participate in vegan street outreach and  to work at local animal sanctuaries.
4. Grand Jury 101
Jordan Halliday
11:30am to 1:00pm
Veganism and Athletes
1. Utah Vegan Runners
Caitlin Butterfield

2. Competitive Athlete Vegan Training and Health Plan
Keate Avery

3. Triathlon Family
Deepthi Prasanna
4. Is Spandex Vegan? Nutrition and Beyond in Endurance (and other) Sports
Ryan Borrowman

ABSTRACT: These days it’s not uncommon for endurance and strength athletes at every level to thrive on a mostly plant based diet. Many eat a (for the most part) vegan diet and even more eat a vegetarian diet. What is less common is for these same athletes to be eating completely 100% plant based and to be living a vegan lifestyle. Rich Roll, Scott Jurek, Dotsie Bausch, Joe Gambles, Patrik Baboumian, and Kendrick Farris are a few of the trailblazers making their way as pro level athletes, but sport is their job. As a competitive ‘age grouper’ doing sport on the side it can be tough navigating the world of clothing, equipment, coaches, and nutrition but it is certainly not impossible. Do I need more protein? Is there leather in that? Do you have vegan options? These are just some of the questions you’ll have to ask or likely be asked. Using my own experiences as a guide we will discuss the difficulties often faced as one progresses though the competitive environments of endurance sports and other sports and how they can be overcome.
BIOGRAPHY: Ryan made the move to a vegetation lifestyle at the age of 19 and committed to being 100% vegan just over 10 years ago and has never looked back. At 43 that represents more than half his life as a plant based athlete. Ryan has competed in cross-country running, track & field, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, and cheerleading and has also been an acrobat for the Utah Jazz. He currently competes in running, cycling, cyclocross, mountain biking, triathlon, and Olympic weightlifting.
1:00pm to 1:30pm
Lunch (not provided, but everyone can donate to food being delivered)
1:30pm to 2:30pm
2. The (In)Humanity of Honeybees: The Dangers of Anthropomorphizing Bees
Samantha Orsulak

ABSTRACT: The queen honeybee has experienced human public relations disasters time and time again throughout the last few centuries. She has been misgendered and labeled a king despite scientific evidence; she has been cast alternately as an exotic Amazonian warrior and as a domestically blissful mother; and she has been dismissed as a mere breeder. The drone honeybee has alternately represented the emasculated aristocrat, society’s poor, and the lazy worker. Unsurprisingly, none of these representations provided by literature, art, and general culture are accurate or respectful toward honeybees. Honeybees are not warriors, aristocrats, or economically unsuccessful—they are life forms of their own accord and do not follow human expectations or gender standards. Every day honeybees struggle to survive in an increasingly growing urban jungle and poisonous agricultural landscape. Because the bee does not possess its own identity in the eye of humans—the animals who have domesticated bees to the point of no return, who control bees’ lives in every way, who contribute to the removal of their ecosystems—bees have little to no chance for long-term survival alongside humans. Humans need to stop anthropomorphizing bees to suit their own social commentary; until they view honeybees as their own animals with their own social dynamics, lives, and inalienable rights to freedom and the earth’s resources, honeybees will be caught in the middle of being both human and inhuman.
BIOGRAPHY: Samantha Orsulak is a recent graduate of University of York, where she specialized in 18th- and 19th-century Gothic literature and animal studies. Her dissertation explored the representation of animals in Saki’s short fiction and how Saki inverted the 19th-century belief in human superiority through animal characters demonstrating dominance over humans. She now teaches Humanities secondary education with an ecological and social justice lens. Her research interests include animal representations in literature, Gothic monsters, and natural history. She is eager to share the fascinating history of the honeybee and act as its voice in the fight for nonhuman animal representation.
2:30pm to 4:00pm
1. Hidden In Plain Bite: The Truth Behind Factory Farming and The Power of Our Food Choices
Chris Shapard

ABSTRACT: From social justice to public health to sustainability, factory farming is one of the most serious issues facing the planet. By educating young people and stakeholder audiences about the realities of factory farming, Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (FFAC) works to build both a consumer base for a sustainable, compassionate food system and an informed citizenry that supports cultural and legislative change.
BIOGRAPHY: Chris Shapard is the Salt Lake City director of the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (FFAC), a nonprofit organization committed to empowering people to help save the environment, animals, people, and their own health through their daily food choices. Chris is a Utah native, and has a background in nonprofit work focused on animal advocacy, grassroots outreach, and marketing.Chris Shapard is the Salt Lake City director of the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (FFAC), a nonprofit organization committed to empowering people to help save the environment, animals, people, and their own health through their daily food choices. Chris is a Utah native, and has a background in nonprofit work focused on animal advocacy, grassroots outreach, and marketing.
2. Heteronormativity, Masculinity-Construction and Veganism
Taylor O’Connor

ABSTRACT: In their call for the reading of veganism, a diet and lifestyle backed by strong ideology, as a “queer moment”, Rasmus R. Simonsen constructs their “Queer Vegan Manifesto” on the foundational relationship between sexuality, gender construction, and animal-consumption. While they acknowledge the possibility that veganism could produce a disruption to normative assumptions linking heteronormative masculinity (read; virility, domination, aggression) and meat-eating, what remains to be elaborated is the specific place held by male vegans. That is to say, while all vegans can be viewed as antithetical to western society, not all vegans are equally suspect in their deviance. At the most “extreme” end of this spectrum are adult-male vegans. Christened “Soy Boys”, their ethics and consumption choices put their gender and sexuality expression into question in such a way that they may find themselves even further alienated than other more ‘traditional’ vegan identities. Deemed emasculated, outsider, and often shamed for their divulgence, they are stripped of masculine-carnist status. In the vacuum that is left by the removal of societal markers and signifiers in the form of normative food-products, they often find themselves grasping to reconstruct a masculinity that will undoubtedly be hyper-criticized. This paper will analyze some of the socio-cultural items and discourse produced both for and by male vegans in order to assess the ways in which they perform gender and sexuality in public space. The response of these subjects has either the potential to be a true counter to patriarchy, capitalist culture, and heteronormativity or an unfortunate reiteration of the values that rendered comprehensible the systems of violence against nonhuman animals in the first place.
BIOGRAPHY: Taylor O’Connor is a doctoral student and graduate teaching assistant in the department of French and Francophone Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. She received her M.A. in French from Penn State, and has taught at l’Université de Strasbourg in France. Her primary research interests lie in Enlightenment-era vegetarianism, however her work touches upon questions of animal activism, species egalitarianism, and new materialisms as they appear in the Francophone world both historically and in modern day. She has presented her work both in Europe and the U.S., and hopes to continue working towards the liberation of all species.
3. Consistent Anti-Oppression & Nonhuman Rights Advocacy
Julia Brueck

ABSTRACT: How can we build bridges with others outside the movement and as a community, truly center nonhumans? Julia Feliz explains that this can be done efficiently by recognizing that mainstream veganism must commit to essential changes in action and perceptions to ensure it raises the voices of the very nonhuman animals it is supposed to be a movement focused on. Human supremacy and nonhuman supremacy are interconnected in ways that mainstream veganism still has not acknowledged and accepted. We can’t extend the conversation beyond a minority without understanding our own hand in the oppression of others and how in refusing to do so and tolerating intolerance, we truly decenter nonhumans. Mainstream veganism finds itself rooted in upholding supremacist hierarchies, which only center and elevate the most privileged above nonhuman animals themselves. Thus, the focus of this talk will be on helping conference participants make these connections while emphasizing how consistent anti-oppression must be applied and be at the forefront of their activism. The tools and resources already exist through entities, such as Sanctuary Publishers, www.sanctuarypublishers.com, a non-traditional vegan book publisher invested in activism, which focuses on consistency in our activism through the creation of resources to guide activists on these very issues.
BIOGRAPHY: Julia Feliz Brueck is the founder of Sanctuary Publishers, sanctuarypublishers.com, a non-traditional vegan book publisher invested in creating resources that help raise the voices of marginalized communities – human and nonhuman. Julia is a published illustrator and author/editor (juliafeliz.com) of works such as “Veganism in an Oppressive World” and “Veganism of Color: Decentering Whiteness in Human and Nonhuman Liberation”. They are also the founder of resources such as ConsistentAntiOppression.com, VeganismOfColor.com, NeuroAbleism.com, as well as NewPrideFlag.com, which has been personally selected by the Library of Congress as a historical artifact.
4. The Importance of Animal Sanctuaries
Lauren Lockey

4:00pm t o 5:30pm
Hip Hop Activism and Social Justice
1. Life Lessons From The Elements
Wes Wesson aka SoulLyricists

ABSTRACT: Life Lessons From The Elements takes a look at five lessons we can apply to our lives from the practice of the five elements of Hip-Hop and the culture itself. The lessons we’re going to look at are: Practice Makes Permanent, Fly Under The Radar, Let The Music Play, Health Matters, and Social Awareness. Practice Makes Permanent dives into the art of how to practice, and how you practice is a direct influence on how the performance turns out. To Fly Under The Radar is to have a plan and make the essential steps to strategically execute that plan. Let The Music Play is the lesson of knowing that things don’t always go the way we plan it and to go with the flow. Health Matters is just that; we can only do as much as our bodies and minds will allow us. Even in the earliest years of Hip-Hop, Social Awareness has played an integral part of the culture. All of the elements collectively share stories from our lives, reveals what’s going on in today’s world, and teaches us lessons of life itself.
BIOGRAPHY: Wes Wesson’s love for the Hip-Hop culture and passion for teaching began at a very early age. This multi-talented musician from Tallahassee, Florida later moved across the country to Portland, Oregon in 2014. There he worked in the school system as a hip-hop educator, mentor, and workshop leader with Up and Over, LLC speaking with youth about life skills and how to overcome obstacles. Wesson made the move to Salt Lake City, Utah in 2018 and founded Acoustic Funk Nation LLC. He is also an active member with the non-profit organization Salt Lake Save The Kids.
Street Cries
Mac Allred

6:00pm t o 6:30pm
Utah Prison Letter Writing
by Salt Lake Save the Kids and Utah Criminology Student Association
Group Dinner at Veggie House – 52 E 1700 S Salt Lake, Utah, USA


Time TBA – Hike/Run (carpool)
Time TBA – Trip to Sanctuary (carpool)
Time TBA – Lunch not provided, but a group lunch
Time TBA – Flights Out of Town (carpool)


Call for Presentation due October 15, 2019

Submit the following in a Word Doc as an attachment in an e-mail.
1. Abstract/Description: 200 to 250 words third person one paragraph
2. Biography: 80 to 100 words third person one paragraph
3. Submit to: Dr. Anthony J. Nocella II – nocellat@yahoo.com
E-mail subject title: ICAS 2019 Conference
Possible topics include, but not limited to:
Social Change and Health
Food Justice
Environmental Justice
Green Criminology
Civil Rights
Human Rights
Disability Studies
Pan-African Studies
Gender and Sexuality Studies
Economic Justice
Critical Criminology
Critical Geography
Religion and Theology
Social Theory
Critical Theory
Open Rescue
Social Movement Theory
Restorative Justice
Transformative Justice
Youth Justice