Animals in cultural practice and aesthetic communication

Christine Ivanovic's picture
Call for Papers
March 20, 2017
Subject Fields: 
European History / Studies, Intellectual History, Literature, Philosophy, Social History / Studies

Animals have always played a fundamental part in the emergence of human cultures. Human relations with animals generally fall into four different categories:


  1. Ecological: measures that ensure the coexistence of animals and humans (delineation of habitats; protection measures; forms of cohabitation)

  2. Economical: hunting, utilizing animals and their products

  3. Scientific: gathering knowledge through observation of animals

  4. Mythological: totemic or semiotic use of animals (animals as elements of religious cults, animal narratives, etc.)


The spectrum of aesthetically mediated communication on animals is considerable. The cultural practices applied within the above categories are subjects of all forms of aesthetic media: art, literature, film all reflect those practices, transform them in culture-specific contexts, and create new traditions. Animals are therefore not only subjects but also themselves media of cultural agency. Communication on animals inscribes them with meanings that can serve fundamental functions in negotiating cultural orders, that can become cultural indexes, and that can indicate boundaries and their transgression.

The emergent field of Cultural Animal Studies attempts to analyze the complexities of the cultural agency of human-animal relations through aesthetic representations.

This year's postdoc forum of the ARGE “Cultural Dynamics” seeks to discuss this new field of study from the perspective of a multitude of different disciplines and methodological approaches, providing examples and case studies for the fundamental research of this new field of cultural studies.

What possibilities are there for interdisciplinary cooperation in practice? What results can be expected for the various disciplines involved? What opportunities will present themselves for intercultural research approaches, considering how human-animal relations and their associated cultural practices as well as theoretical conceptions are often highly culture-specific? Those practices are often both generated by and generating of culture – can a (diachronic or synchronic) cultural comparison serve to more clearly delineate the concepts and practices that regulate human-animal relations? In how far can human-animal interactions serve as an example for the reconstruction of the transfer of cultural practices and the corresponding knowledge? And in how far can animals serve as representatives of cultural transfer and the cultural experience of the other?


We invite postdoc scholars from all disciplines of cultural studies and related fields to apply with a 1-page abstract.


Please send all applications (abstract & CV, German or English) by March 20th to:

Contact Info: 

Univ.Prof.Dr.Christine Ivanovic

Abt.f.Vergl.Lit.wiss., Univ. WIen

Sensengasse 3A

A- 1090 Wien