Trans* people are often represented and imagined in terms of a collection of body parts. This can be articulated through everyday interactions and questions from cisgender people about genitals or surgery, the psychiatric and legal discourses that trans people must navigate in order to obtain physical changes, and far too often through the literal dismemberment of trans* bodies after murder. The ways in which violence against trans* bodies is perpetrated – the excessive use of force, and acts of degradation or mutilation after death reveals the construction of trans bodies as ‘other’, as not-quite-human, and therefore ungrievable. The reporting around trans people’s deaths, in which discussion focuses on the spectacle of trans bodies, creates a discourse in which violence against trans people is seen as justified, and mediated through such defences as the “trans panic defence”. This paper will look at the links between the murder and dismemberment of trans* people in relation to the murder and dismemberment of non-human animals who are also constructed as a sum of body parts, and as ungrievable victims.
Curtis is a PhD candidate in Gender, Sexuality and Diversity studies at LaTrobe University, looking at histories of violence against queer bodies in Australia and tutors first year GSDS. He is a long term vegan and lives with three rescue hens and a giant ginger cat.
Police-Dogs: Assemblages of desire, control and resistance
Dr Peta Malins
The use of dogs in policing has a long history. Dogs have been mobilised by both private and public police for search and rescue, offender detection and apprehension, emergency response (including sieges and bombs), interrogation (and torture), customs work, institutional intimidation and contraband detection (including in mental health units, hospitals, schools, prisons and detention centres), the policing of drugs (particularly at airports and music festivals, but also increasingly in everyday urban and rural public space) and public order and protest regulation (including of animal rights protests). Dogs have proved useful to policing purposes for a range of reasons including their olfactory and auditory capacities, their ability to be trained to respond to commands, their capacity for both aggression and warmth, and for their ability to provide enduring forms of companionship. Their use, however, raises a range of ethical, aesthetic, legal, practical, social, public health and philosophical questions, the intersections of which are yet to be fully teased out. In this paper I will start to tease out some of these intersecting considerations. Building on Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) post-human concept of assemblage, I will explore the specificity and affectivity of this human-animal nexus, including the roles that capitalism, desire, affect, fear, stratification and becomings might have on police dog encounters and their socio-political implications.
Peta Malins is a Lecturer in Justice and Legal Studies at RMIT University, Melbourne. Her research focuses on the unintended effects and affects of various crime prevention interventions, with a particular focus on policing and drug and alcohol prevention. She has published widely on these issues and has also co-edited a collection entitled Deleuzian Encounters: Studies in Contemporary Social Issues (Palgrave 2007). She is currently working on projects regarding school drug education, overdose memorials, stencil art and police drug detection dogs.
Challenges entailing ethical changes and animal advocacy in the veterinary industry and curriculum
Within the veterinary industry, issues surrounding the usage of animals in various sectors have continually emerged and opportunities to initiate progressive ethical changes are often met with resistance. Despite the public perception of veterinarians as advocates for animal welfare, traditionally the veterinary profession has been complicit in facilitating the exploitation of animals in a number of industries – including pharmaceutical (laboratory vets), agricultural, sporting or entertainment, and pet industries.
When economic interests are involved with the use of animals, oftentimes veterinarians defer to the position of industry, rather than adopting the authoritative role of advocates to protect the animals’ interests; this is evident in the delayed response and conservative stance conveyed by the peak veterinary representative body in Australia – the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) – on a number of welfare issues. Despite a strong association with the veterinary industry in monitoring the live export industry for decades, the routine cruelty inherent in the trade was only publicly exposed and acted upon as a result of independent investigations by animal activists, and had not previously been condemned by the AVA. Similarly, greyhound racing has long been supported by the veterinary profession, yet systemic animal abuse – such as live baiting, mass greyhound killing, and draining blood from greyhounds prior to euthanasia – only surfaced due to undercover footage by animal activists that achieved significant media attention. The relationship of the agricultural and animal research industries with the veterinary profession poses many ethical dilemmas, with veterinary students being taught to abide by standard industry practices that may entail animal suffering, rather than demanding ethical changes. Instead, independent non-profit veterinary advocacy groups – including Sentient, The Veterinary Institute for Animal Ethics and Vets Against Live Export – have been vocal in calling for changes.
Throughout the course of the veterinary degree, students are desensitised to industry norms through the compulsory curriculum and are not taught – and oftentimes, discouraged – to question the status quo. Moreover, animal rights activists and the animal liberation movement are portrayed as unscientific or misinformed, and regarded as threats to the veterinary profession. The manner in which veterinary students are taught inevitably leads to a disparate regard for certain species – we learn that the well-being of companion animals (dogs, cats, pocket-pets) is of utmost importance and warrant life-saving veterinary treatment, with pain alleviation being a vital component in treatment and surgeries, while in comparison, we are taught how to most efficiently raise farm animals for slaughter or prolonged utilisation, and that the same surgical procedures performed in neonatal lambs and piglets (e.g. castration) do not require pain relief despite possessing the same pain pathways.
This presentation will discuss the challenges inherent in changing attitudes within the veterinary industry, the speciesism ingrained in the degree and desensitisation veterinary students are exposed to through the curriculum, and the barriers affecting veterinarians acting as effective animal advocates. Also included will be a discussion of the potential for ethical changes and avenues through which these can be achieved.
Workshop: Vegan Consumerism and Going ‘Mainstream’
Increasingly, veganism appears to be taking on an arguably consumerism-driven focus. Not only in terms of personal choices, or conscientious trends in the vegan (and non- vegan) marketplace, but as a collective objective that seems to regard consumerism as an ultimate goal in vegan activism – a idea commonly thought of as ‘going mainstream.’ With a rise in media and celebrity attention directed towards the vegan lifestyle, the conditions and objectives of vegan consumerism have built momentum. Vegan consumerism might arguably be characterised in terms of plant-based diets that obscure the complexity of other ethical choices on the basis of marketability, campaigns (and fundraisers) that encourage non-vegan multi-national brands to provide vegan options (despite a plethora of other unethical and animal exploitative products), or even the demand that vegans deserve ‘faux’ versions of every animal-based product they once enjoyed (regardless of need).
The consequences of these consumerism-driven approaches are slowly being brought to the forefront, with discussions about the relations between capitalism, animal liberation and intersectionality. In the blog Chickpeas and Change, also reposted in Species and Class, Ali Seiter’s article ‘Veganism and Consumerism’ points to the ‘re-centring of the human experience.’ ‘Vegan consumerism,’ Seiter realises, ‘becomes a project to benefit humans who eat a vegan diet rather than other animals oppressed by speciesism.’ Similarly, in Direct Action Everywhere, Hana Low’s ‘Vegan Options are Not Animal Liberation’ reveals how this re-centring of the human experience though consumerism, is also being campaigned for by animal advocacy organisations.
In response to these articles, this workshop aims to facilitate a critical dialogue around the notion of vegan consumerism and what it really means for veganism to ‘go mainstream.’ Primarily, this workshop seeks to address the intersectional dynamics and implications of vegan consumerism, particularly in terms of intersectional oppression.
Low, Hana. 2015. ‘Vegan Options are Not Animal Liberation.’ Direct Action Everywhere. Blog Post. http://directactioneverywhere.com/theliberationist/2015/3/5/dear-animal- advocates-vegan-options-are-not-animal-liberation
Seiter, Ali. 2014. ‘Veganism and Consumerism.’ Chickpeas and Change. Blog post. https://chickpeasandchange.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/veganism-consumerism/
Tara Lomax is a doctoral research candidate in screen and cultural studies and has taught issues related to media and everyday consumerism at university level. Previously, Tara has presented at multiple ICAS Oceania conferences and AASG conferences, and has undertaken research in the representation of animal exploitation in contemporary cinema.