CHSTM Research Seminar: 31 October 2023
31 October 2023, 4pm
CHSTM Seminar Room: Simon 2.57 [maps and travel]
Dr Carrie Friese, London School of Economics
More-than-Human Humanitarianism: Bioscience, Care and the Problem of Sacrificial Logics
This is not a talk about animal rights. Nor is it about human rights. This talk instead seeks to recapture an ethos of humanitarianism by examining it at the margins: in work with laboratory animals in Britain. Care and compassion for a distant other who suffers, which is central to humanitarianism and that shapes work with laboratory animals in Britain today and historically, is both a necessary and a necessarily problematic set of practices and ideas. This book is rooted in an empirical exploration of this double bind, focusing on those animals that serve as surrogate humans in biomedical research and the people who both care for and kill these animals.
The question this talk asks is: what do laboratory animals look like through the lens of humanitarianism and what does humanitarianism look like through the lens of laboratory animals? In asking this question, I build upon established arguments that the human of humanitarianism, human rights and humanism does not guarantee a freedom from violence or discrimination within the species because the very concept itself is a hierarchy, one that allows for violence and discrimination as a dividing strategy. I also build upon critiques of the power relations that humanitarianism has been complicit in, producing and reproducing colonization, racialization and capitalism. Where this talk diverges from this critical scholarship, however, is in the analytic approach, which works by amplifying fleeting moments of care and compassion that I experienced as part of ethnographic research in order to resonate more general concerns regarding inequalities, suffering and injustice.
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