CFP: MANCEPT Workshop - Animal Politics: Utopian and Dystopian Visions of Multispecies Society

Submission deadline: June 1, 2022

Conference date(s):
September 7, 2022 - September 9, 2022

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Conference Venue:

Manchester Center for Political Theory, University of Manchester
Manchester, United Kingdom

Topic areas


We invite abstracts for the forthcoming MANCEPT Workshops session Animal Politics: Utopian and Dystopian Visions of Multispecies Society in Manchester, United Kingdom, 7-9 September 2022.

When animal ethicists dare to dream, they imagine worlds in which animals are protected from harm and welcomed as members of our societies. They can, however, be forgiven gloomy pessimism when they look at today’s world. Globally, more animals are kept in factory farms than at any other point in history. The last vestiges of untouched ‘nature’, if any exist at all, are tiny. And catastrophic climate change threatens all of us, but not least animals.

Animal ethicists – especially when informed by political theory – have done valuable work theorising multispecies utopias. But they have also done important work documenting today’s multispecies dystopias, exploring how we can move away from them. We propose to put this work in conversation: to place utopias next to dystopias, to put ideal theory in conversation with non-ideal theory. Bringing together political theorists, animal ethicists, critical animal studies scholars, and those in cognate disciplines, we will ask:

  • What does multispecies utopia look like? What does multispecies dystopia look like?
  • What makes a vision multispecies? In what sense (if any) should we want our politics to be multispecies? In what sense (if any) should we not?
  • Where do we find ourselves in relation to visions of multispecies utopia or dystopia? Should we be optimistic? Pessimistic?
  • What steps can we take to push towards multispecies utopia? Away from multispecies dystopia?
  • What is the role of animal sanctuaries in thinking about utopia? Do sanctuaries offer an opportunity to think about what a just multispecies society might look like? Or do they reveal the limits of what we can achieve with captive animals?
  • How (if at all) do animals themselves work towards utopia or dystopia? In what ways might animal agency contribute to the realisation of a multispecies utopia?
  • Where do animals fit in classic studies or visions of utopia and dystopia, if at all? What is the value, for animal ethicists, of utopian theorising? Of ‘ideal theory’? Of political theory generally? Are visions of ‘zoopolis’ utopic? What does that mean? 
  • How can political theorising influence real-world animal politics? Or animal activism? What place does talk of utopia and dystopia have in real-world politics and activism?
  • What is the role of stories, thought experiments, art, and literature in thinking about multispecies utopias and dystopias? Does animal ethics need more imagination? Do we need new genres and methods to think about and work towards multispecies futures? How can we support and promote radical political imagination?
  • What can philosophical treatises of multispecies justice learn from other intellectual and cultural traditions (transhumanism, Afrofuturism, disability studies, gender studies)? How can we ensure that multispecies utopias are not dystopian from other perspectives?

To submit a paper, please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to Angie Pepper ([email protected]) by the 1st of June 2022. Selected speakers will be notified shortly thereafter.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the convenors: Angie Pepper ([email protected]), Eva Meijer ([email protected]), and Josh Milburn ([email protected]).

Selected speakers will have an hour to present their paper, including Q&A. Please note that speakers will have to register for the conference; this year’s fees are £230 for waged academics, with a concession rate of £135. Bursaries are potentially available for current graduate students. Presentations with more than one speaker are welcome, but all speakers will have to register separately for the conference.

Confirmed speakers: Paula Arcari (Edge Hill University); Alasdair Cochrane (University of Sheffield); Steve Cooke (University of Leicester); Sue Donaldson (Queen’s University); pattrice jones (VINE Sanctuary); Anat Pick (University of Helsinki and Queen Mary University of London); Will Kymlicka (Queen’s University).

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Custom tags:

#MANCEPT, #Animals and Politics, #Animal Ethics