Animal Futures Working Group | Zoomorphizing Humans

Many believe that there is something wrong with anthropomorphizing animals. What exactly is wrong with it, for whom, and do the same problems hold—or not—when we zoomorphize humans? In this session, Professor Charis Thompson addresses these questions through her work on elephants, bioterrorism, and the animal model in the life sciences. This is an opportunity to return to a set of questions that has preoccupied animal studies scholarship for decades: what exactly is the boundary between human and non-human animal life, and what does the varied terrain this boundary traverses tell us about our common future?

Charis Thompson is Chancellor’s Professor and Chair, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, and the Center for the Science, Technology, and Medicine in Society, and Director of the Li Ka Shing Program in Gender and Science, at UC Berkeley. She is also RQIF Professor, Department of Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science. She is the author of the books Making Parents: The Ontological Choreography of Reproductive Technologies, and Good Science: The Ethical Choreography of Stem Cell Research, and numerous other articles on scientific research, biomedicine, biodiversity, social justice, and governance. She serves on the Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee of UC Berkeley and previously served on the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute SCRO. She is currently a member of the London-based Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Group on Genome Editing.

2013: Good Science: The Ethical Choreography of Stem Cell Research. MIT Press. Ch 6, “On the Research Subject and the Animal Model,” pp 189-222.

2002: “When Elephants Stand for Competing Models of Nature,” in eds. Annemarie Mol and John Law, Complexities: Social Studies of Knowledge Practices. Duke University Press, 166-190.

1999: “Confessions of a Bioterrorist: subject position and the valuing of reproductions,” in eds. E. Ann Kaplan and Susan Squier, Playing Dolly: Technocultural Formations, Fantasies, and Fictions of Assisted Reproduction. Rutgers University Press, pp. 189-219.

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Image: NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center

Animal Futures Working Group is supported by The Program in Critical Theory and organized by UC Berkeley graduate student Joshua Williams (Ph.D. Candidate, Performance Studies; DE in Critical Theory).