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The Human-Animal Studies Report
June 2020
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to the current issue of the Animals & Society Institute's Human-Animal Studies Report. 

I hope you and those you care about continue to weather the changes brought about by the pandemic as well as you can.

This month’s COVID-19 update continues to present and analyze aspects of how the virus is affecting animals and people. In addition to ongoing concerns about rising COVID-19 infection rates in some countries, this month saw two particular instances related to racial injustice at the human-animal interface—one that fosters despair and outrage, and one that encourages hope. I report here on two topics: the treatment of workers within industrialized animal agriculture and human entanglements with another species in the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

As we seek to find our way through these unprecedented times, I hope you stay healthy and safe!


Editor’s note: The HAS e-newsletter is organized as follows: Jobs, grants, and calls are ordered chronologically by deadline dates, with the earliest first, and will continue to be posted until the deadlines expire. Books and articles include, where possible, links to access them directly from this email. Because publication reference styles vary by source, they might not always be consistent or pretty, but they will get you there. To read more about the topics discussed, click the bold hyperlinks for source material and additional information.

Please send your comments, suggestions, and submissions to: , and if possible include a URL link to your project or announcement.

COVID-19 Update

Intersections between race, humans and other animals

Industrialized animal agriculture workers 

As last month, aspects of the COVID-19 virus continued this month to raise concern about both the “depopulation” of animals within the factory farming industry. According to information reported in an email from and compiled by  Sentient Media  from  The New York Times , the  Guardian  and  Science , at least 20 million farmed and lab animals have been exterminated because of the pandemic.

The situation has also worsened for the treatment of workers within industrialized animal agriculture. Although the statistics vary depending upon how the demographics are categorized and measured, it is clear that Black, Hispanic, and Asian workers  comprise a large percentage of meat industry workers . It is also clear that food production workers are more likely to have household incomes 200% below the federal poverty level and, in particular, Black and Hispanic workers are also more likely to be uninsured compared to workers overall.  These findings show that many food production workers have limited ability to absorb income decreases , creating disincentives for them to miss work even if they feel ill or fear getting ill, and increasing the risk of them experiencing financial challenges if they do miss work.

Meat production rebounded this month after the factory farming industry lobbied the US administration to intervene and reverse plant closures mandated by local and state officials. Following the federal administration classifying these factories as “essential,”  COVID-19 cases have increased dramatically  at slaughter and packing plants. As of press time,  at least 32,049 workers have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least 109 workers have died

This creates a problem that ties the industry’s inhumane treatment of animals with social justice concerns for the humans involved, where economic instability and lack of insurance force workers into unsafe conditions. While  some plants have closed temporarily , worker safety has been ignored by management in others, and instances of plants attempting to block the release of COVID-19 testing results have angered public health officials. In a North Carolina chicken plant, for instance, Tyson hired a private company to take over testing and ceased relaying the results of the testing.  Only after the state public health director warned Tyson that its testing company could face prosecution did the health department receive the information . (Similar actions to downplay the pandemic’s death and infection rates of Indigenous peoples in Brazil have pressed the country’s indigenous federation’s executive director, Sônia Guajajara, to  assert that the administration’s institutional racism is leading to state-authorized genocide , “The government wants to hide the real numbers in order to carry out its plan to exterminate the indigenous peoples.”)

In addition to trying to simply stay alive in these dangerous conditions and to care for their families under economic conditions that already make this difficult, these workers also face ethnic scapegoating. Rather than confront the problem for workers in these plants, some industry spokespeople, politicians, administration officials  sought to blame the workers themselves . A Smithfield plant spokesperson cited the plant’s “large immigrant population,” in which “living circumstances in certain cultures are different than they are with your traditional American family”; Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack  downplayed  a regional outbreak, declaring that it involved meatpacking workers and not “the regular folks” of the area; and  U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar faulted  the "home and social" aspects of workers'  lives rather than the conditions inside the facilities for the illness spikes. 

Coronavirus outbreaks in meat processing facilities are not limited to the USA. Germany has recorded its largest local COVID-19 outbreak since it started reopening its economy in early May; out of 1000 tested,  more than 600 employees at a slaughterhouse were positive for coronavirus . German officials are acting more responsibly, however. Local authorities  shut down the plant, and suspended all schools and daycare centers  in the region until June 29.

Meanwhile, as discussed last month, the United States has continued to export pork to China, showing that concerns over supply issues in the USA were overstated in order to reopen the plants because “ keeping the plants open would also protect their long-term investments in exporting to a country that is vital to their growth ."

Sociologist Cory Wrenn recently  took a scholarly look at the problem , challenging “Neo-colonial practices that serve to spread Western dietary practices, entrench developing regions in animal agriculture, and fan food insecurity.” Echoing the point that addressing the environmental crisis and climate change must involve dismantling white supremacy, the director of strategic partnerships for the Sierra Club, Hap Hopkins,  connects today’s environmental crises with racism  as “all a part of the same story…. Just as the settlers had to believe and tell stories to dehumanize the people they killed, plundered, and terrorized, today’s systems... can only work by dehumanizing people.”

And on a positive note, the coronavirus pandemic continues to push more consumers to buy meat alternatives— over half of those polled in the United States now want meat-free options —with  sales soaring 168.5% in the first week in June , and meatless alternatives are becoming more readily available.

(To follow more news about this topic, see the excellent coverage on the Facebook page   Anti-Pandemic Diet  and the nonprofit investigative organization  Food & Environment Reporting Network .)

Black Equestrians and #BlackLivesMatter

The #BlackLivesMatter movement, which originated in 2013 to fight violence and racism, recently gained widespread energy following the May 25 murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who was killed when a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes in Minneapolis. One woman’s attempt to take a positive stand brought an interspecies aspect to the protests that followed. 

On May 29, African-American horsewoman Brianna Noble loaded Dapper Dan, her originally difficult 17.1-hand Appaloosa “project” gelding, into the trailer and headed out for a protest in Oakland, California. Little did she know she would be leading not only a protest march of thousands of people, but also an international movement challenging the depth of systemic racism within equestrianism around the world.

Brianna explained  her motivation for her first appearance: ““It felt like it didn’t matter how much I could scream, my voice wasn’t loud enough, my words weren’t deep enough,” she said. “So I thought, what makes me different from everyone else? What was I put on this earth to do? And it’s horses.”  Noble continued , “I know that what makes headlines is breaking windows and people smashing things. So I thought: ‘Let’s go out and give the media something to look at that is positive and change the narrative.’”

Her prediction proved true.  Brianna and her huge horse carried the day eliciting awe and hope among protesters and their supporters , and the story was picked up by national and international media outlets. On June 7, the  Compton Cowboys took up the call, marching with 1500 of protesters  in a Peace Ride aback their horses. Many of the Compton Cowboys,  who describe themselves as  “a collective of lifelong friends on a mission to uplift their community through horseback and farming lifestyle, all the while highlighting the rich legacy of African-Americans in equine and western heritage,” are former members of the Compton Jr. Posse, an organization that has provided opportunities for Compton youth to learn to ride and care for horses since 1988. Similar rallies took place  in Chicago  and  Houston .
As  this piece in the New York Times  notes, “The black cowboy and cowgirl communities share a similar code and creed. They are guided by a way of life that involves a supreme love for the animals they tend to and an appreciation for the ground they ride on.”

Brianna Noble took her message further  when she commented on the systemic racism that exists within the equestrian community: “You don't actually see too many black people—let alone black women—riding…. It used to really bother me because it's dominated by white people riding horses in general, and I always felt like I stood out.” 

Noble’s comments have prompted deeper dialogue of the racism inherent in equestrian disciplines. (In the above-mentioned Compton Cowboys article, one rider held a sign reading “Why are there not more Black equestrians? Oh yeah! Systemic racism.”) As this piece,  discussions about race unsettle rarified equestrian world , from the Associated Press points out, most of the equestrian world is “an insular community with a gross amount of wealth and white privilege, and thus we choose the path of ignorance.” Reactions to such call-outs were not all positive, and  one such counter-point to white privilege in The Chronicle of the Horse  received a great deal of criticism, including on the newly formed Facebook group  Progressive Equestrians , which was created in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter protests as a means for supporters to find each other within a system that includes a majority who seem unaware of their own insularity and short-sightedness.

Other discussions took the form of educating equestrian groups' constituents, as in this admirable piece from the  UK Eventing Nation  which calls systemic racism “the world’s biggest conversation right now.” The  United States Equestrian Federation also issued a letter of support  which read in part, “We believe it is important to be very clear: Black lives matter to US Equestrian. We stand firmly against racism and discrimination of any kind and are taking steps to further educate our staff and create a more inclusive and diverse community for all staff and participants,” and encouraged members to utilize a list of educational resources they provided.

In this aspect of the fight for racial justice, protesters have harnessed the size, demeanor, and presence of horses as a peaceful way to be seen and heard. As cited above, Brianna Noble stated she has found an “amazing pedestal—my horse Dapper Dan—to sit upon and not have to say a word.” Maybe this time, with the help of horses, America might get the message.


More resources on COVID-19, racism, and animals

James K. Stanescu, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.  Race and Animal Studies—bibliography .

Choubak, M. & Safdar, S. (2020).  The elephant in the room: The often neglected relevance of speciesism in bias towards ethnic minorities and immigrants . In S. Safdar, C. Kwantes, & W. Friedlmeier (Eds.), Wiser world with multiculturalism: Proceedings from the 24th Congress of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a   Guidance for Handlers of Service and Therapy Animals .

Faunalytics  Fundamentals: Zoonoses .

During A Pandemic, Dogs Are Essential Citizens,  a conversation with Brian Hare, PhD, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, Director of Duke Canine Cognition Center.

International Companion Animal Management Coalition.  Infected not infectious: How dogs and cats have become the victims of COVID-19 .

Nicole Pallotta, Animal Legal Defense Fund.  China Reclassifies Dogs from “Livestock” to “Companion Animals.”

Wiebers, D.O and Feigin, V. L. 2020. Editorial:  What the COVID-19 Crisis Is Telling Humanity Neuroepidemiology


In keeping with the recent events highlighting systemic racism in the United States and globally, the Animal & Society Institute has issued the following Statement of Solidarity: "These are historical times that have revealed the pain, turmoil, anguish, and divisiveness society still confronts when it comes to racism—a deep and abiding stain on society's past that continues today. ASI envisions a compassionate world where animals flourish and that world embraces respect, dignity, and social justice for all humans. ASI stands with Black Lives Matter and all organizations that oppose all forms of racism, injustice, and violence as antithetical to our vision of a compassionate world and we stand with our supporters who are committed to ending racism." 

We are pleased to announce our new, public,  Human-Animal Studies Facebook group  has exceeded 1000 members in less than a month since its launch! The group is designed to fill the need for a network for sharing information and promoting research, accomplishments, jobs, events and activities related to the multifaceted and complex relationships that exist between human and other animals. Please  join us there , share HAS-related information, and spread the word!

We are excited to announce that  Volume 28, Issue 2 of the  Society & Animals  is now available! Managed and edited by ASI,  Society & Animals  publishes studies that describe and analyze our experiences of non-human animals from the perspective of various disciplines within both the social sciences and humanities.  Society & Animals  is unique in the breadth of subjects covered, methods of papers published, and diversity of scholarly disciplines represented.


Ford, J., Bytheway, A., & Alleyne, E. (2020).  Man’s Best Friend and Sometimes Target: Negative Interpersonal Relations Are Related to Animal Abuse Proclivity Society & Animals 28 (2), 113-132. 

Gustafsson, E., Alawi, N., & Andersen, P. (2019).  Attitudes Toward Animal Rights in Palestine: A Quantitative Study Society & Animals 28 (2), 133-150. 

Young, R. L., & Thompson, C. Y. (2019).  Exploring Empathy, Compassion Fatigue, and Burnout among Feral Cat Caregivers Society & Animals 28 (2), 151-170. 

Van Patter, L. E., & Blattner, C. (2020).  Advancing Ethical Principles for Non-Invasive, Respectful Research with Nonhuman Animal Participants Society & Animals 28 (2), 171-190. 

Ruiz Santos, P., Belino, M., Rijo, R., Piaggio, J., & Damián, J. (2018).  Clinical Veterinarians’ Perceptions about Sexes and Breeds of Dogs Involved in Aggressiveness in Montevideo, Uruguay Society & Animals 28 (2), 191-207. 

Morrison, R. D. (2020).  Non-Human Animal Discourses and Shaping the Victorian Realist Novel Society & Animals 28 (2), 209-213. 

Note: The Animals & Society Institute offers Scholar and Student Scholar members a discount of 50% on  Society & Animals  subscriptions. Additionally, members are given access to an online archive of past articles from the journal. Should you decide to  become an ASI member , please email  once your account has been verified for your discounted ordering information.
HAS News and Opportunities

The Culture & Animals Foundation  (CAF) Administrative Board invites those who are passionately committed to animal rights, non-profit organizations, the arts, and scholarship to contribute their time, energy, and ideas as CAF expands our work. CAF is an all-volunteer-run, non-profit organization whose mission is to support artists and scholars in advancing our understanding of and commitment to animals. The Board is responsible for CAF's programs, management, and finances; meets two or three times a year; and is a voluntary position. Anyone interested in learning more about the Board and its work with a view to possibly serving as a director, please email .

Here’s a new sub-section to allow us all to assist established and emerging researchers in understanding aspects of human-animal relationships. (And I don’t know about you, but I find them fun.) Let’s help these scholars further the field!

Survey: Current university students and post-grads can help out Jillian Bradfield (MScR student) at the University of Edinburgh  with this study  regarding the role of companion animals on university students’ lives and university student interest in animal-assisted therapy. 

Survey: Ph.D. Student Heather Clements at the University of the West of Scotland invites you  to take part in a survey  about the influence of companion animal guardianship (pet ownership) on well-being during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. 

Survey: Clinical Animal Behaviour Master’s Degree student at the University of Lincoln, UK, Ryan Dillon, is conducting a survey on  the ‘selfie culture’ and wildlife tourism .

Survey: What do dogs and cats really like to eat? Which diets make them healthiest and happiest? Despite the increasing array of conventional and alternative pet food choices, surprisingly little is known about how different types of pet food affect the health of dogs and cats, and about which diets they prefer. A new study aims to shed light on some of these questions. If you’re over 18 and have shared your household with a dog for at least one year, then you and your pet (via you!) can participate.  The online survey takes around 10 minutes to complete .

Funding and Job Opportunities

Applications are now open for funded PhD scholarships  at Curtin University for domestic Australian candidates working in areas aligned with the research program  Posthumanities, Animalities, Environments: Transformative Concepts and Methods for the Anthropocene No deadline given.   Contact: Matthew Chrulew < >

New HAS Books and Monographs

Following are some of the books out this month that we are excited about!

Muller, S.M. (2020).   Impersonating Animals: Rhetoric, Ecofeminism, and Animal Rights Law . Michigan State University Press.

Schaffner, J.; Wandesforde-Smith, G.; Wolf, P.; Levy, J.; Riley, S.; & Farnworth, J. (Eds.) (2019).  Sustaining innovation in compassionate free-roaming cat management across the globe: A decadal reappraisal of the practice and promise of TNVR . Lausanne: Frontiers Media SA. 

New HAS Articles and Book Chapters

Following are some recent research articles and book chapters published in the field of Human-Animal Studies.

A new Issue of the  Animal Studies Journal   is now available online.

The May 2020 issue of  Environmental Humanities  is now available online.

Jonathan  Bowen, Elena García, Patricia Darder, Juan Argüelles, Jaume Fatjó, (2020).  The effects of the Spanish COVID-19 lockdown on people, their pets and the human-animal bond Journal of Veterinary Behavior . (online pre-proof)

Browning, Heather and Veit, Walter (2020)  Improving invertebrate welfare Animal Sentience,  29(4).

Hull, E. (2020). Love and Death: Theoretical and Practical Examination of Human-Animal Relations in Creating Wild Animal Osteobiography. Society & Animals

O'Key, D. (2020).  Animal Collectives Style,   54 (1), Special Issue: We-Narratives and We-Discourses across Genres (2020), pp. 74-85. 

N. Schuurman, K. Dirke (2020).  From pest to pet. Liminality, domestication and animal agency in the killing of rats and cats TRACE∴ Journal for Human-Animal Studies .

Searle, A., & Turnbull, J. (2020). Resurgent natures? More-than-human perspectives on COVID-19.  Dialogues in Human Geography

R. Sollund (2020).  Wildlife Crime: A Crime of Hegemonic Masculinity?   Social Sciences.

Zoei Sutton & Nik Taylor (2020).  Managing the Borders: Static/Dynamic Nature and the ‘Management’ of ‘Problem’ Species Parallax ,25:4, 379-394.

Williams, E. J., & Blackwell, E. (2019). Managing the Risk of Aggressive Dog Behavior: Investigating the Influence of Owner Threat and Efficacy Perceptions.  Risk Analysis

Wolf, P. & Hamilton, F. (2020).  Managing Free-roaming Cats in U.S. Cities: An Object Lesson in Public Policy and Citizen Action Journal of Urban Affairs.

Calls for Papers: Journals

A special issue of the journal  Diversity  on " Humans and Wild Animals: Interactions in Deep Time, Recent History, and Now " has issued a call for papers.  Deadline for manuscript submissions is December 1, 2020.  

The Human Animal Interaction (HAI) Section of the American Psychological Association has issued a call for papers for a special issue covering “Therapies Incorporating Horses to Benefit People: What are They and How are They Distinct?” Please direct any inquiries (e.g., suitability, format, scope, etc.) about this special issue to the guest editor: Wendy Wood The deadline for manuscript submittal is November 30, 2020.

The open-access journal, Animals , will publish a special issue on " Social Isolation and the Roles That Animals Play in Supporting the Lives of Humans: Lessons for COVID19 ." Deadline for manuscript submissions: April, 30 2021. 

Calls for Papers: Conferences
and Workshops

Editor’s note: Assume that events noted within this HAS E-News are in flux. Although I have left calls and notifications for conferences in, I suggest you contact the conference organizers to ascertain whether or not gatherings of interest will occur.

Call for abstracts for an online conference covering   Historical Practices in Horsemanship and Equestrian Sports  August 28-2020. The conference is devoted to discussing historical practices of horsemanship and equestrian sports, their emergence and evolution over centuries and into the present day. A volume of articles based on selected papers will be published in the  Rewriting Equestrian History Series  by Trivent Medieval.  Abstracts due July 1, 2020.

The British Animal Studies Network has issued   a call for abstracts  for its now-virtual autumn meeting 2020, on the topic of Animal Borderlands.  Abstracts due July 6, 2020.

The European Association for Critical Animal Studies has issued a call for presentation proposals for   a conference, Animal Futures: Animal rights in activism and academia , to be held in Viljandi, Estonia on May 8-9, 2021.  The deadline is September, 30, 2020. 

Save the Date: The Minding Animals—Animals and Climate Emergency Conference (ACEC) conference and events will be held over 22 to 29 July, 2021, in Sydney, Australia, in a central Sydney city venue. A conference registration website and the call for abstracts will appear mid-year. In the meantime, please see  for further information. For information, please contact Rod Bennison at .

Meetings, Conferences and Presentations

Below are upcoming meetings and conferences for which the submission deadlines have passed, or for which submissions were not requested. Again, given the COVID-19 situation, please contact the conference conveners to confirm the conference is still being held. 

The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare 2020 conference “ Recent Advances in Animal Welfare Science VII ” will now be conducted online, on Tuesday, June 30 and Wednesday, July 1, 2020. This virtual event is free to attend.

As you can see, there is a tremendous amount of activity and progress going on today in the field of Human-Animal Studies, and we always invite your input and participation. Your donation to the Animals & Society Institute will enable us to continue to expand the field in many more ways and work in conjunction with others around the world who share these goals.

Thank you for supporting our Human-Animal Studies efforts!

Gala Argent, PhD
Human-Animal Studies Program Director