DISCUSSING SCIENCE: Animals Mattered in Joensuu

Pauliina attended the annual meeting of the Finnish Society for Human–Animal Studies held in Joensuu on April 25th-26th. The two days were filled with high quality presentations of ongoing human–animal research in Finland. The diverse disciplines or hybrid disciplinary identities included history, literature, philosophy, economy and education to mention but a few. Animals thus mattered in a multitude of ways and most researchers shared the observation that human–animal research (beyond anthropocentrism) is beginning to be a legitimate theme in their respective fields.

Of the many fascinating presentations here’s Pauliina’s TOP5 picks:

Otto Latva: Luonnonhistorian näkemyksiä etäisistä ja tavoittamattomista eläimistä 1700-luvun lopulla. // about early natural scientists’ fascination with  mysterious and unattainable animals such as the Kraken or the Platypus which did not fit existing taxonomies –> people were more ready to believe that these animals did not exist rather than to concur that there was something wrong with their system of classifying animals.

Heidi Mikkola: Meren syvyyksissä, ruudun pinnalla – Elokuvallista kerrontaa pintaa syvemmältä // about the human–animal–technology connections and engagements in nature documentaries about the seas; about divers as cyborgs!

Anu Valtonen: Affektiivisia kohtaamisia turistin iholla // about mosquitoes as native habitants, about tourist-humans as food resources for mosquitoes, about the immense agency of mosquitoes on many levels ranging from individual lives to flows of economical resources and masses of tourists.

Nina V. Nygren & Sanna Ojalammi: Eläintarhakävijöiden tilanteiset kokemukset Korkeasaaressa // about discourses of legitimation for keeping zoo animals, about the material manifestations and audience responses to these discourses and about animals as workers at zoos – expectations of animals as employees to be cheerful and excited about their work, about being viewed.

Elli Lehikoinen: Lisääntyvät ruumiit ja lajienvälisyys // about breeding, pregnancy and birthing in contemporary Finnish autofiction as collapsing and reconfiguring the idea of ‘species’ and the territories and differentiations between species; about pregnant and birthing women as mammals –> about the politics of breeding regarding all species, not just humans.

…Not to mention (sorry, cannot stick with just five) Reeta Kangas: Hitlerin lehmät // about animals in Soviet propaganda cartoons in Pravda, 1941-45. About the function of animal characters or animal-humananimal hybrids in dehumanising a human enemy in order to kill.


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