Disability in Dialogue with Animality: The BIODIAL Project
What do disability studies and animality studies have in common? Join us for a series of dialogues focused on the BIODIAL project, (The Biopolitics of Disability, Illness, and Animality: Cultural Representations and Societal Significance). Team members will present research findings from the project, and consider implications for broader discussions and debates in the Norwegian public sphere and beyond!
Sunaura Taylor, image courtesy of the artist
Considering a person to be somehow less than human can help to legitimize indifference, if not also neglect, discrimination, or even death. People with disabilities and chronic or terminal illnesses have long been dehumanized in this way, despite the ongoing efforts of disability advocates and activists. Parallel structures of oppression can perhaps be found in the treatment of animals, in the sense that not being human becomes the justification for violence and death for certain species.
But advocates for people with disabilities and advocates for animals sometimes seem to be at odds with each other, particularly if animality is seen as something to avoid (for people with disabilities) or if animal advocates remain insufficiently aware of how offensive it can be simply to equate animals with people with disabilities. At the same time, linked discourses continue to make it possible for both human and nonhuman lives to be subject to problematic kinds of treatment, if not also violence with impunity.
The research project BIODIAL: The Biopolitics of Disability, Illness, and Animality has explored these issues, particularly in relation to the ways that literary and cultural texts negotiate the intersections of disability, illness, and animality.
This event invites the public into a discussion about what has been learned and how to move forward from The BIODIAL Project.
Program for the event
Join us for a series of dialogues featuring:
- Michael Lundblad - Primary Investigator, Professor of English-Language Literature, UiO
- Jan Grue - Co-investigator, Associate Professor of Sociology and Human Geography, UiO
- Tom Bradstreet - PhD Fellow (BIODIAL); currently Associate Professor in English Literature at the University of South-Eastern Norway
- Mexitli Lopez Rios - PhD Fellow, Department of Literature, Area Studies, and European Languages, UiO
Commentaries and dialogues will be led by:
- Tone Druglitrø - Associate Professor, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, UiO
- Chiara Montalti - Erasmus PhD Fellow, University of Florence
The event will take place at Scene HumSam in Georg Sverdrups hus, and will also be streamed.
The BIODIAL Project
BIODIAL: The Biopolitics of Disability, Illness, and Animality is a research project that has been funded by The Research Council of Norway (2017-2021) to explore the ways that literary and cultural texts negotiate the intersections of disability, illness, and animality.
Team members have explored a wide range of novels, memoirs, films, and TV series, including Avatar, Game of Thrones, World War Z, The Shape of Water, The Athena Club mysteries, and Still Alice (see The BIODIAL Blog). Bringing together the academic fields of disability studies, animality studies, and posthumanism, the project has foregrounded the theoretical insights of biopolitics, which studies the ways in which certain forms of life are socially constructed as less valuable than others. This theoretical background illuminates cultural attitudes and problems related to disability, illness, and animality, as well as policy discussions and debates in the Norwegian public sphere and beyond.
The project opens up questions related to gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, and environment, as well as educational policies, workplace conditions, and legislation regarding issues such as discrimination, accessibility, accommodation, euthanasia, assisted suicide, abortion, health care, vivisection, factory farming, animal welfare, and veterinary medicine.