November 17, 2023 – 23rd North American Conference for Critical Animal Studies

23rd North American Conference for Critical Animal Studies
November 17, 2023
Public, Free, Recorded, and via Zoom

Sponsored by the Utah Criminology Student Association, Salt Lake Community College

Click Here to Register:

Conferences Chairs:
Amanda Williams, Laura Schleifer, and Keara O’Bryeb

(Based on USA Mountain Time)
10:00am – 5:30pm

10:00am-10:10am – Welcoming and Introduction
Amanda Williams, Laura Schleifer, and Keara O’Bryen

Biography: Amanda R. Williams is a nueroqueer scholar and activist with a total-liberation orientation and author of the book The Overprivileged Human: Understanding and Eliminating Species Privilege for Total Liberation. A recognized scholar and board member of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, they enjoy researching and writing on the connections between liberatory struggles and the roots of oppression. As a day job, Amanda is a data analyst for Austin Pets Alive!, one of the largest No Kill companion-animal rescues in the country. Although currently located in Kansas City, Amanda enjoys organizing and connecting with veganarchists across the globe and collaborating on activist projects.

Biography: Laura Schleifer is the Institute for Critical Animal Studies Conference Director , Program Director at Promoting Enduring Peace, and co-founder of Plant the Land, a Gaza-based vegan food sovereignty /community projects team. A lifelong “artivist” and graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, she’s performed throughout the Middle East with a circus troupe, taught in China, Nicaragua, and at Wesleyan University’s Green Street Arts Center, performed off-Broadway, and arts-mentored homeless youth. Her screenplay, The Feral Child, was a Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab finalist. Her essays appear in New Politics Magazine , The Leftist Review, Project Intersect, Forca Vegan, The New Engagement, Kropotkin Now! Life, Freedom and Ethics (Black Rose Books, 2023), Resisting Neoliberal Schooling: Dismantling the Rubricization and Corporatization of Higher Education, (Peter Lang, 2023), Fever Spores; William S. Burroughs and Queer Letters, (Rebel Satori Press, 2022), and the forthcoming Expanding the Critical Animal Studies Imagination (Peter Lang, 2024).

Biography: Keara O’Bryen is a Licensed Master Social Worker and working on her certification as a humane education practitioner. Her interests and experience include advocacy for interspecies justice in social work (and in general) and personhood for all beings. Working with individuals and communities directly and through policy work and program development, she intends to integrate intersectional, stigma, shame, and trauma-informed approaches to facilitate collective Earth(ling) healing that includes our animal identity to transform the Earth(ling) industrial complex. She is also interested in ecofeminism, culture and spiritualities, phenomenology, consciousness, ethics, decolonizing sickcare systems, and addressing multiple overlapping social justice issues. Keara is developing a program still in its infancy called BEarth Right Collaborative to address these issues.

10:10-10:30am – Presenter One
Animal Rights and Humanitarian Work
York Hayes and Valerie Tabbita 

Biography: Valerie Tabbita (She/her) and her partner York Hayes (He/Him) have been vegan for 9 years and involved in animal rights communities in Phoenix AZ, Norfolk VA, and Salt Lake City UT for the past 5 years.

Biography: York works professionally as a sales consultant in the solar and home energy efficiency industries. He has worked in direct sales for the past 25 years and brings his sales skills into his work with animal rights. Valerie has worked professionally in many different manufacturing sectors as well as in the solar industry, where her and York met.

Abstract: York and Valerie will be speaking today about their nonprofit The Compassionate Earth Project and how humanitarian work can help spread the message of animal rights to communities in need. Last year, York and Valerie traveled to Kenya on a volunteer trip through York’s work. They spent time visiting orphanages and schools where children were in need. They met an environmental and vegan activist named Jack Lekishon who introduced them to his humanitarian work in the Maasai Mara Kenya to improve the lives of children, animals, and the planet. Valerie and York felt so inspired upon returning home that they decided to found a nonprofit called The Compassionate Earth Project to help support Jack’s vision in Kenya.

10:30-10:40am Q and A

10:40-11:00am – Presenter Two
Reflecting 25 Years in the Social and Civic Engagement Arena
AJ Reed

Biography: For the last 25 years, AJ (they/them) has been an organizer, community educator, and activist who has employed leftist praxis to build power for people in their intersectional lives and to develop alternative communities for another possible society. As a public scholar, they examine the complexities of historical regimes instituted by official stations of power that have applied their logic across scales and landscapes through critical human geography at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

Abstract: In the late 90s, I began my journey to fight for social change, economic democracy, and the environment, from working with peace and justice groups in the rural Midwest to collaborating with many people from around the United States. I will describe my journey and reflect on modes of resistance to change during my tenure in the social and civic engagement arena.

11:00-11:10am – Q and A

11:10-11:30am – Presenter Three
Comrade Gladi Blanca, memes, and presidential campaign
Lucas Alan Dietsche

Biography: Lucas Alan Dietsche(pronouns, He, Comrade, Accomplice) is with Transformative Justice Journal, an adjunct professor of Prison Education, member of Save the Kids, a PhD Student of Visual Arts: Visual Arts: Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Art/ Institute of Doctoral Studies of Visual Arts, Co-Chair, Annual Transformative Justice and Abolitionist Criminology Conference, and Ex-Poet Laureate of Superior, Wisconsin. He has published articles on Poetic Inquiry Criminology, zines, and transformative justice, and is currently running Gladis Blanca the Orca for President in 2024.

Abstract: ucas Alan Dietsche During the better part of 2023, we have seen orca attacks on yachts in many parts of the Atlantic Ocean. So much so that the bourgeoisie media and many yachting clubs have vilified Gladis the Orca, the matriarch in charge of a pod of rebellious orcas. Memes and swag have filled the sites of many animal liberation groups social media pages and have even forged class consciousness with Gladis. Even more so, an Otter on the western coast of USA has been deemed a “terrorist” by the media. What should as humans our united front be towards Gladis and Otter? Should we run Gladis the Orca as President as a symbol for an united animal liberation and human liberation front?

11:30-11:40am – Q and A

11:40-12:00pm – Presenter Four
Mystical Creatures
Kacie Auffret

Biography: Kacie Auffret is a Canadian born artist with a degree in Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Windsor and an MFA from the University of British Columbia – Okanagan. Her core research inhabits the idea of spirituality, sentience and biogenetic bringing together the ideas and concepts of our relationships with other life forms that not only exist on this planet but also spiritually. Auffret engages in performance, installation, intaglio printmaking, photography, sculpture and painting based artistic practices, community arts, social practice and biological sciences.

Abstract: Mystical Creatures is an art exhibition that was created around the ideas of connection, spirituality and wildlife. These animals’ invite you, to take a moment of your time and share your energy with theirs.

12:00-12:10pm – Q and A

12:10-12:30pm – Presenter Five
Rethinking Diversity
Cina Ebrahimi

Biography: Cina Ebrahimi is an activist from Seattle, Washington. He first got involved in activism in 2004 at the age of 15 after George Bush’s reelection and participated in the first phase of the Black Lives Matter movement in the mid-2010s, in addition to various other issues affecting people in the Pacific Northwest area, such as immigration/undocumented rights. He became vegan in 2016. He formally used to work in academia but has since let and is currently involved with labor organizing and mutual aid projects such as Seattle Food Not Bombs.

Abstract: With the re-igniting the of the Black Lives Matter Movement in 2020 due to the state murders George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahamd Abuary, and others, Anti-Racism has become a household term, perhaps more than any other time in US history. Everywhere, from the workplace to schools, and even the US military are implementing diversity and inclusion trainings. The purpose of this talk is to interrogate the claim that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs are adequate tactics for anti-racism.

12:30-12:40pm – Q and A

12:40-1:00pm – Presenter Six
New Wave Activism
Sabrina Desgagné

Biography: Sabrina attended Centennial Collage and received a diploma in International Business. They also attended Toronto Metropolitan University where they received a degree in Global Management. Sabrina began her animal rights journey by attending events held by The Save Movement. After attending their events for a year, she decided to create the group New Wave Activism to focus on stopping trucks consistently in Toronto with a focus on intersectionality. At 21, Sabrina became the founder of New Wave and began holding events twice a week outside Fearmans Pork Inc in Burlington. Throughout the years the events held by New Wave have included Marineland protests, horse carriage protests as well as visits to the cow and chicken slaughterhouses across Toronto. New Wave’s commitment to stopping trucks directly lead to Bill 156 including sections prohibiting peaceful activism.

Abstract: We will talk about some goals vs. Dreams in respects to groups in Canada. We will discuss the impact of Bill 156 and talk briefly about its affects on the movement / Regan Russell’s murder.

1:00-1:10pm – Q and A

1:10-1:30pm – Presenter Seven
A Movement for Global Solidarity
Selinda Guerrero

Biography: Selinda Guerrero is a grassroots human rights activist and organizer, Selinda believes her main work is to “lift the voices of the voiceless.” In her role as a community organizer she believes all of her work is intersectional with focus on Liberation for oppressed Peoples. She works across issues concerning state violence in all its forms, while addressing underlying issues of generational poverty, access to housing, education, employment, and healthcare. She is a single mother of 6 with deep roots in Tiwa Pueblo Land also known as Albuquerque, New Mexico. She became active and motivated to work for change by building networks of community alliances over the last 30 years. Selinda supports a multitude of projects with the community including: ABQ Mutual Aid, Youth Justice, Political Education workshops, Community Defense including “cop watch,” Street Rep/Jailhouse Lawyering, and building Solidarity and Resistance with people in the struggle and our allies and accomplices.

Abstract: Discuss our connections to the Palestinian struggle and why our reciprocal Solidarity has always existed. We will begin to unpack our collective understanding of “settler colonialism” and “imperialism.” We will discuss what is meant by Indigenous Peoples across Mother Earth when we call for “Land Back.”

1:30-1:40pm – Q and A

1:40-2:00pm – Presenter Eight
Some Thoughts on the U.S. Occupation of Hawaii
Lea Lani Kinikini

Biography:  Dr. Lea Lani Kinikini (she/her/ia) is a critical cultural researcher whose learning interests include family migration, diaspora (especially Oceanic and Pacific Islander), popular culture and gender (including youth and masculinity), and community power relations focused on class, race and spirituality/religion.

Abstract: This paper talks about initial scoping research into the jurisdictional occupation of Hawaiʻi from 1893 forward to today. It paints some broad strokes to understand the occupation of Hawaiʻi by the U.S. administrative and military industrial complex. 

2:00-2:10pm – Q and A

2:10-2:30pm – Presenter Nine
An Environmental justice perspective on the intersectionality of housing first, abolitionism, and the struggle for total liberation
Maurece Graham-Bey

Biography: Maurece Graham-Bey is a multifaceted professional with a diverse educational background. Armed with degrees in English, finance, criminal justice, Christian counseling, and expertise as an alcohol and drug treatment specialist, Maurece has dedicated over two decades to practicing restorative justice and promoting alternatives to violence. As a skilled trauma and healing workshop facilitator, they approach their work with a trauma-informed lens. Their multilingual abilities allow them to connect with a wide range of individuals.

Abstract: Maurece’s journey from lived experience of homelessness and incarceration as a youth to becoming a compassionate guide is remarkable. They now specialize in navigating people into stable housing and providing case management support. As a peer coach, Maurece motivates individuals struggling with substance use disorders to seek detox and treatment. Their guiding philosophy is rooted in love, emphasizing empathy and understanding as the foundation for transformative change.

2:30-2:40pm – Q and A

2:40-3:00pm – Presenter Ten
Eco-Animal Activism
Jonathan Paul

Biography: Jonathan Paul has been an eco-animal activist since the mid-1980s working on all issues around animal liberation fighting vivisection, hunting, animal agriculture, the fur industry, climate change, industrial logging, and ocean related issues. Jonathan founded and co-founded the U.S. Hunt Saboteurs, Global Investigations, Sea Defense Alliance, Ocean Defense International, Siskiyou Forest Defenders, and America’s Whale Alliance. He was also involved with Earth First! during the timber wars of the 1990s. Jonathan also was an early member of the Animal Liberation Front involved in many actions over the decades liberating animals from laboratories, factory farms, and fur farms. Jonathan also spent 6 months in jail in 1992-1993 resisting grand juries investigating animal liberation and environmental activists. He also spent 4 years in federal prison for the destruction of a horse slaughterhouse in 1997 which was slaughtering horses for the meat trade in Europe and in Japan. Many of these horses were rounded up by the Bureau of Land Management to make room for cattle and other domesticated animals. He was released in 2011 and since then has been working in ecological forestry and is a contract investigator for animal and environmental groups.

Abstract: Connecting Animal Liberation and the environmental movement and why eco-animal activism is the key to success.

3:00-3:10pm – Q and A

3:10-3:30pm – Presenter Eleven
Behind the Chutes: Documenting Cruelty and Shaping Rodeo Protest Tactics
Max Corwin and Wesley Burdett

Biography: After waking up to the world of animal agriculture Wes picked up a camera to hopefully show others what he saw; he didn’t know at the time that photographing and documenting animals would become his life. For the past four years he’s had the incredible opportunity of working at Sage Mountain Animal Sanctuary in Park City Utah, where he photographs the rescued farmed animal residents who live there. Through his photography, he hopes to inspire a change in the way we see and treat our fellow earthlings. Wes Burdett is an animal photo journalist for We Animals Media, a cruelty investigator for the Utah Animal Rights Coalition, and the volunteer coordinator/manager of Sage Mountain Animal Sanctuary.


Abstract: Wes Burdett will be presenting as a cruelty investigator, discussing his observations and documentation from Utah Rodeos. He’ll explain how we utilized this information to enhance our protest strategy for this year’s events.

3:30-3:40pm – Q and A

3:40-4:00pm – Presenter Twelve
Post-Scarcity Veganarchism
Laura Schleifer

Biography: Laura Schleifer is the Institute for Critical Animal Studies Conference Director , Program Director at Promoting Enduring Peace, and co-founder of Plant the Land, a Gaza-based vegan food sovereignty /community projects team. A lifelong “artivist” and graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, she’s performed throughout the Middle East with a circus troupe, taught in China, Nicaragua, and at Wesleyan University’s Green Street Arts Center, performed off-Broadway, and arts-mentored homeless youth. Her screenplay, The Feral Child, was a Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab finalist. Her essays appear in New Politics Magazine , The Leftist Review, Project Intersect, Forca Vegan, The New Engagement, Kropotkin Now! Life, Freedom and Ethics (Black Rose Books, 2023), Resisting Neoliberal Schooling: Dismantling the Rubricization and Corporatization of Higher Education, (Peter Lang, 2023), Fever Spores; William S. Burroughs and Queer Letters, (Rebel Satori Press, 2023), and the forthcoming Expanding the Critical Animal Studies Imagination (Peter Lang, 2024).

Abstract: At a time when the Capitalist construct of manufactured scarcity is colliding with ecological collapse-induced real material scarcity, how can veganarchism help move us into a post-scarcity future? Inspired by Murray Bookchin’s classic “Post-Scarcity Anarchism” and the concept of “Veganarchism” proposed by Brian Dominick in his seminal text, “Animal Liberation and Social Revolution”, this paper explores how combining anarchist visions of a non-hierarchical, directly democratic, egalitarian, ecological, mutual aid-based communalist society can be combined with a mass transition to plant-based food systems, interspecies sanctuaries for humans and other animals, directly democratic schools that engage children with non-human animals and teach them ecologically-regenerative veganic farming, and an end to the idea that anyone can cage, fence or “own” another human, animal, or part of nature, can help to move us from the current scarcity paradigm–of land, food, water, energy, time, ideas, imagination, community, freedom, and the meeting of all other basic psychological and material needs–to one of abundance in all of the above.

4:00-4:10pm – Q and A

4:10-4:30pm – Presenter Thirteen
Empowered Futures through Values Mapping
Peter Moosman

Biography: Peter Moosman (any pronouns) is a community builder, activist, and creative hailing from Utah – the stolen shared lands of the Navajo, Shoshone, Ute, Paiute, and Goshute people. Peter obtained a degree in Civic Advocacy in 2014, and has worked primarily in higher education. Currently, Peter is the inaugural Gender & Sexuality Student Resource Center manager at Salt Lake Community College, where they’re able to engage young Queer minds in the work of shared liberation. Some additional identities and lenses which Peter sees/navigates the world through: genderqueer, gay, anti-capitalist, body/image insecure, plant-based/veg, male-presenting, white, temporarily able-bodied, neuro-atypical, minimalist, climate and sustainability advocate, middle class worker, punk, try-lingual, and an ignostic, areligious cult-survivor.

Abstract: To get where we want to be, we need to critically analyze where we are and where we’re coming from – our past, our position and context in a community or society, and the paths we took and are taking. With a quote from aboriginal activists as our guide, we will look at how our collective liberation is bound together and how we can draw from our personal histories for strength to continue the work of transformative justice. Specifically, the presenter will share their experience of values mapping, with a focus on the intersectionality of animal liberation, Queer liberation, and punk rock. 

4:30-4:40pm – Q and A

4:40pm-5:00pm – Presenter Fourteen
An Introduction to the End of Our World: Anarcho-nihilism, Anti-Theorizing, and the Politics of Negation (Book Proposal Title)
Sean Parson

Biography: I am an associate professor of politics with appointments in the Politics and International Affairs and Sociology departments at Northern Arizona University. I am the author of Cooking Up a Revolution: Food Not Bombs, Homes Not Jails and Resistance to Gentrification (Manchester University Press 2018), which provided the first academic book-length analysis of the anarchist group Food Not Bombs. I am also the co-editor of A Historical Scholarly Collection of Writing on the Earth Liberation Front (Peter Lang 2019), Representations of Political Resistance and Emancipation in Science Fiction (Lexington Press 2020), Superheroes and Masculinity: Unmasking the Gender Performance of Heroism (Lexington Press 2019), and Superheroes and Critical Animal Studies (Lexington Press 2017). In addition, I have published academic articles in New Political Science, Theory and Event, and Capitalism, Socialism, Nature.

Abstract:  “No Future” was the slogan of the early punks. While the punk slogan of the 1970s might have been premature, their mantra is very apt today. This book develops an anti-theory of negation based on the arguments and aesthetics of punk, dadaism, situationism, political nihilism, and anarchism. This anarcho-nihilistic anti-theory focuses on destituent (destructive), not constitutive (constructive) power, following Walter Benjamin’s analysis of the general strike (Benjamin 2021) and his hand-break theory of revolution (Benjamin 2006). Anti-theory is a challenge to dominant liberal and leftist theories. The anti-theory critique is essential because the political right has forced liberals and leftists to become the handmaidens of industrial production, representative democracy, and pacified politics. Rather than confronting the sources of fascism—the failures of liberal political representation and the growing ecological crisis brought on by industrial capitalism—, there is an impulse by those on the left to focus on tone policing, identity politics, and the deferral of liberation into the future resulting in apathy and disengagement. In response, this book calls for a revolutionary politics of the loser and the underclass that centers resentment against the rich. Rather than if political action will lead to revolutionary change, following the political nihilist movement, this book argues for action on the grounds that resistance is fun and playful.

5:00pm-5:10pm – Q and A


Transformative Justice
Critical disability studies
Healing Justice
Cultural and Religious intersectionalities
Language Terminology
Policy and/or/versus Culture Social Change
Social and Cultural Construction of Disabilities
Fighting Political and Corporate Repression
Being a Scholar-Activist
Decolonizing Movements and Education
Social Movement
Environmental Justice
Social Ecology
Deep Ecology
Disability Pedagogy
Rhetoric of Health and Wellness
Social Attitudes of Neuroatypicality
Total Liberation
Racial Justice
Economic Justice
Social Justice
Youth Justice
Critical Eco-Feminism
Community Justice and Circles
Direct Democracy
Anarchist Criminology
Radical Criminology
Peace Studies and Making
Conflict Transformation and Resolution

All Speakers have 20 minutes to present with 10 minutes of questions and comments.

All submissions for the conference need to hold to the mission and principles of CAS and ICAS and to submit in a Word Doc. as an attachment in an E-mail with the following information:
1. Title of Presentation
2. Biography third person 80 to 100 words one paragraph
3. Description/Abstract of the presentation around 200 words third person and one paragraph

Amanda Williams –