Stijn te Strake/UNSPLASH
Animals are often incorporated in research as cartesian bodies (corpora), as objects of study or experimental instruments, as parts of scientific apparatuses. However, animals are centres of subjective experience, constantly engaging in sensemaking, and responding to events emotionally and behaviourally. Thus, incorporating animals in research means establishing a dialogue with their subjectivities, attending to their experiences, integrating their perspectives into research processes and outcomes, and sharing their stories with research communities and broader audiences. It means shifting from doing research on animals to doing research with animals; from incorporating animals to incorporating with animals, such that researchers’ and animals’ subjectivities become intertwined and together shape the research and its impacts.
Such an ambition raises fundamental ethical and methodological questions. How might researchers engage with animals as participants in research processes and stakeholders in research outcomes? How should they position themselves in relation to the animals’ subjectivity? What ethical responsibilities might they bear when they work in contexts that objectify animals? How would they maintain their animal-centred focus and account for the interests of animals impacted by the research? What strategies could they employ to participate in the animals’ experiences without becoming emotionally overwhelmed or rationally incapacitated? How might they challenge discrimination against animals in their disciplinary discourse?
Within the field of Animal-Computer Interaction (ACI) - which takes an animal-centred perspective on the study and design of technology for and with animals - researchers have been investigating approaches, tools and strategies to address these questions, including: methods to enable animals to participate in the design process; frameworks to inform researchers’ ethical engagement with animals; toolkits to help researchers position themselves in relation to animal research participants; and strategies to support researchers’ political engagement with ACI research. But more needs to be done to help researchers incorporate with animals, within and beyond ACI research.
This workshop provides a forum for researchers to share their multidisciplinary experiences of working with animals, including methods, tools and strategies they have employed, challenges they have faced and successes they have achieved. Through group discussions, workshop participants will identify common problems and possible approaches to doing multispecies inclusive and participatory research. Participants’ shared experiences and discussions will inform a transdisciplinary repository of methods, tools and strategies for anyone to draw from, and open questions and challenges for anyone to address, thus supporting a growing multidisciplinary community who believe in the importance of incorporating with animals in research.
Researchers from any discipline who have conducted, are conducting or hope to conduct research with animals, and who wish to develop an animal-centred perspective on doing research with animals, are warmly encouraged to apply to participate in the workshop. Places are limited to 20 participants, who will be selected based on the quality of their application.
Prospective participants should submit a 500-word position abstract outlining any experience they have of doing research with animals and why they wish to participate in the workshop. The abstract should also include their name, affiliation and role.
On the day of the workshop, participants will be asked to give a 5-minute presentation on their experience and approach to doing research with animals, including any challenges and successes, where relevant.
Following the workshop, participants’ contributions to the event will inform a repository, which will be publicly available online as a resource to support researchers working with animals.
A resource to support researchers working with animals, based on the workshop participants' contributions.