Beginning Bumps

While our project is only in the proposal stage at this time, we wanted to share that proposal in hopes of generating buzzzz. Please send any thoughts/suggestions/excitement/speaker ideas you have our way. Here it is:

HIVES Workshop on Disability Studies, Animal Studies, and Popular Culture

Faculty Coordinators: Dr. Zarena Aslami (Fall 19) and Dr. Scott Michaelsen (Spring 20)

Graduate Student Coordinators: Jessica Stokes and Michael Stokes

Do you have HIVES yet? Are you part of a bee hive? Are you covered in hives from anticipation? Do you have a fungal infection? This research workshop seeks to create a generative space for conversations at the intersections of disability studies and animal studies in popular culture. In his book Brilliant Imperfection, Eli Clare emphasizes how “White Western culture goes to extraordinary lengths to deny the vital relationships between water and stone, plant and animal, human and nonhuman, as well as the utter reliance of human upon human” (Clare 136). Clare offers the disability studies notion of interdependence as a way to undo fantastical narratives of independence and the individual. We see HIVES as an engagement with hiveminds, relationality, and interdependence across and within animal/human divides. This research workshop will draw on popular culture in the form of novels, films, and video games and theory from disability studies to critical race theory to queer studies to animal studies in order to think through disrupting white western denials of interdependence. We will seek to answer: what are the potentials and pitfalls of the overlap between disability and animal studies? what forms of inter-reliance arise from lived disabled existence and/or representations of disabled characters in popular culture? what does (and does not) separate animals and humans? what frictions exist in turning to animal studies to find alternate conceptions of relational being? Such questions have been the subject of fierce and frequent discussion at the intersections of these fields (Consider the kerfuffle surrounding eugenicist Peter Singer’s invitation to the Animal Law Conference in Nova Scotia and/or the Crip Technoscience Manifesto published in Catalyst that argues for interdependence in everyday interactions with technology).

Drawing on participant-selected popular culture objects, the working group will scaffold our discussions with relevant theory that proposes alternate ways of thinking through networks of support. These works will be a guideline for collaborative discussions in which we seek to reimagine our notions of relationality.


  1. The "von" may be fiction, but the rest is fact:

    As someone who has a full-body hives reaction to amoxycillin and related antibiotics, I’m not really into this wordplay… I support everything else though.


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