Workshop: Crossing Boundaries

Workshop: Crossing Boundaries

Together with his colleague Helena Holzberger (LMU Munich), Russian Ecospheres member Timm Schönfelder is organizing a workshop titled “Crossing Boundaries. Human-Animal Relations from Post-Petrine Russia to the Soviet State (1725–1991)“.

The workshop will take place on sight in Leipzig from 29th till 30th of June 2023.

Motivation of analyzing human-animal relations

The study of human-animal relations is one of the most promising fields in historiography. The workshop will take a longue durée-perspective on the interplay of human and nonhuman actors that ranges from post-Petrine Russia to the fall of the Soviet Union. During the past three decades, it has evolved from animal activism to a highly theorized endeavor that tries to re-situate nonhuman species in societal contexts.” – Timm Schönfelder

With regards to the theoretical and methodological tools of the thriving field of human-animal studies, it is necessary to re-evaluate established narratives of internal colonization (as in the example of the fur trade), culturalization (e.g., in pet-keeping and the emergence of livestock farming), and conflicting agency (as in the rather macabre tales of polar bears and Arctic explorers).

What is more, in light of the lasting inaccessibility of Russian archives, this widened perspective allows alternative avenues and opportunities in finding and interpreting historical sources. Thus, the workshop aims at bringing together scholars from such varying backgrounds like environmental, social and cultural history with the goal of producing a peer-reviewed special journal issue that delivers new approaches to an old relationship.

Preliminary topics for the workshop

Possible contributions may include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  1. Human-animal encounters in contexts of imperial expansion
  2. Trans-species agency and processes of culturalization
  3. Commodification of animals from proto-capitalist to socialist economies
  4. Food cultures in transition and the industrialization of animals
  5. Human and nonhuman animals in gendered relations of power
Interested in contributing or taking part?

The workshop will focus on developing publications for the field, which is why the coordinators are looking forward to contributions with a spatial scope from western Russia to the Pacific Ocean, and from the steppes of Central Asia to the ice shelves of the Arctic Circle.

The call for papers ends at the 10th of March, 2023. You will be notified by early April regarding acceptance. If interested, please inform yourself here:

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