Zoopolitics of Life and Death. Critical Animal Studies Conference

October 17, 2023 - October 18, 2023
THE NEW INSTITUTE Centre for Environmental Humanities (NICHE) Ca' Foscari University, Venice; Leuphana University, Lüneburg

Venice and Lüneburg Germany

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This event is available both online and in-person

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Please note that the conference has no registration fee, and will take place in presence and online in Venice and in Lüneburg at the same time.

Registration for presenters and attending students needing certification is mandatory (it will be possible to register after abstract selection ends).

Presenting participants and attending students needing certification are kindly asked to attend in-person.

Papers will be selected for publication after the conference closure.

For any inquiry and additional information, please write to Chiara Stefanoni (Leuphana University) and Federica Timeto (Ca’ Foscari University) at: [email protected]


The concepts of zoopolitics and biopolitics (following Foucault’s theorization) have traditionally been addressed separately, based respectively on a – contested (Derrida) but philosophically pregnant (Agamben) – distinction of zoé and bios. These, as two different Greek terms for “life” in the work of Aristotle (Politics), have been used, in the first case, to merely refer to the lives of nonhuman animals, and the second to a distinctively human form of life. However, we think that these terms need to be articulated together to address the multispecies composition of contemporary natureculture assemblages and their lively capital (Haraway; Helmreich).

The always situated lines running through humanity and animality, the animate and the inanimate (Chen), the organic and the machinic (Haraway), what is deemed worth living, saving, preserving and what is expendable and killable, are, at once, dividing and implicating: it is around such ideological and material boundaries that the logic and apparatuses of exploitation, extractivism, marginalization, domination are structured and sustained.

Today, biopolitics (Foucault), techno-biopolitics (Haraway), zoopolitics (Agamben, Derrida), molecular biopolitics (N. Rose) necropolitics (Mbembe) show how animal life and death are increasingly defined and managed in order to be capitalized, starting from the very appearance of life itself. Thus, in a Critical Animal Studies perspective, addressing the biopolitics of humannonhuman relations and the divides between them we cannot ignore the nonhuman “counterpart”, which means addressing zoopolitics, and the contiguity of the two (Shukin; Wadiwel; Piazzesi). After all, life always acknowledges, creates and sustains relationality, as Feminist Animal Studies underline, from Ecofeminism (Adams, Gaard, Gruen, Donovan) to new materialist and compostist approaches (Alaimo, Barad, Haraway).

Following the principles of Critical Animal Studies, we thus adopt a holistic approach to confront oppressions (Fitzgerald and Pellow), shared exploitation and vulnerability, but also to put liveability and flourishing according to a total liberation framework to the forefront (Best, White, Nocella II). In this spirit, the conference welcomes both theoretical and empirically-oriented papers on topics critically addressing the politics of life and death of nonhuman animals from the fields of the Humanities and the Social Sciences.

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