Animal Studies

The Animals and Society Institute and Wesleyan Animal Studies are proud to announce the 2014 ASI-WAS Human-Animal Studies Fellows pursuing research in Human-Animal Studies.

The fellowship is hosted by Wesleyan faculty Lori Gruen and Kari Weil. Gruen is a Professor of Philosophy, Environmental Studies, and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan, and author of Ethics and Animals: An Introduction (Cambridge, 2011). Weil is Chair and University Professor of Letters at Wesleyan, and author of Thinking Animals (Columbia, 2012).

The fellowship program is directed by Ken Shapiro, Executive Director of Animals and Society Institute, Margo DeMello, Program Director, Human Animal Studies Program, and Wesleyan professors Lori Gruen, and Kari Weil.

This year's Fellowship was supported by the generosity of Wesleyan's Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, the Animal Welfare Trust,  Ellen K. Jacobs and family, the Humane Society of the United States, the NYU Animal Studies Inititative, and the Philosophy Department.


Elan Abrell, ABD

PhD Candidate, Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center

"Saving Animals: Everyday Practices of Care and Rescue in the US Animal Sanctuary Movement."

Sponsor: The Humane Society of the United States

Elan Abrell is a PhD candidate in the  Anthropology Department at the CUNY Graduate Center. His dissertation, "Saving Animals: Everyday Practices of Care and Rescue in the US Animal Sanctuary Movement," is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted at several animal sanctuaries across the US. It examines how sanctuary workers care for and interact with animals on a daily basis and how they understand their ethical obligations to these animals. Elan is particularly interested in how animals shape both the material and social conditions of their own care through their relationships with human caretakers. Elan also teaches in the Urban Studies Department at Queens College, and holds a JD from the UC Berkeley School of Law. He has been involved in various forms of animal advocacy since he tried to rescue a lobster from a grocery store at the age of 10.

Elan Abrell


Christiane Bailey, ABD

PhD Candidate, Philosophy, Université de Montréal

"Un animal comme un autre. De la reconnaissance des animaux comme autrui vers leur reconnaissance comme égaux. / Animals as Selves. From Intersubjective Recognition of Animals as Others to Ethico-Political Recognition of Animals as Equals. "

Sponsor: Feminist Animal Studies fellowship in honor of Marti Kheel

Christiane Bailey is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy at Université de Montréal (Québec, Canada). She is writing a thesis on the intersubjective recognition of animals as other selves and their ethico-political recognition as equals. Her areas of interest include Animal Ethics, Critical Animal Studies, Phenomenology of Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity, Philosophy of Animal Minds and Consciousness, Posthumanist Approaches to Selfhood and Personhood, Animals in Western Thought, Social and Environmental Justice, Ecofeminism, Antispeciesist Egalitarianism and the Politics of Interspecies Communities. She has published "Le partage du monde: Husserl et la constitution des animaux comme 'autres moi'"; "Zoopolis. A Political Renewal of Animal Rights Theories"; "Kinds of Life. On the Phenomenological Basis of the Distinction Between Higher and Lower Animals"; "Animal Dasein. Heidegger's Appropriation of Aristotle's Ontology of Life" and "La vie végétative des animaux. La destruction heideggérienne de l'animalité". More info:
Christiane Bailey


Bénédicte Boisseron, PhD

  Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies, The University of Montana, Missoula.

"'Coloanimalism:' The (Post-) Colonial Animal in the Black Diaspora of the Americas."

Dr. Bénédicte Boisseron is Associate Professor of French and Francophone Language and Literature at the University of Montana. She earned her PhD in French Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her field of study includes Caribbean Literature and Culture; Francophone Studies (Sub-Saharan and North Africa); Twentieth & Twenty-first Century French Literature; Modern and Postcolonial theory; French and Francophone Cinema; Women Narratives; and African-American Literature.

Benedicte Boisseron


Joshua Kercsmar, ABD

PhD Candidate, History Department, University of Notre Dame

"Animal Husbandry and the Origins of American Slavery."

Joshua Kercsmar is a Ph.D. candidate in U.S. History at the University of Notre Dame. His dissertation, "Animal Husbandry and the Origins of American Slavery," traces how British efforts to raise five of the most prolific European animals -- cows, sheep, pigs, horses, and dogs -- served as a model for enslaving humans in America between 1550 and 1815. Moving between environmental and cultural history, he argues that whites conceived the enslavement of Africans as an outgrowth of their divine sanction to "improve" nature, to turn wild and unproductive beasts into tame and useful ones. This process was far from static. For as new, more rigorously mercantile, ways of relating to livestock took hold at the center of the British Empire during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, they shaped and were shaped by changes in slave systems on the peripheries. The result of these mutual interactions was to transform the nature of human and animal servitude in profound and often tragic ways.

Joshua Kercsmar


Anat Pick, PhD

 Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Film Studies, School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, Queen Mary, University of London 

"Animal Life in the Cinematic Umwelt."

Anat Pick is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at Queen Mary, University of London in the UK. Her book Creaturely Poetics: Animality and Vulnerability in Literature and Film was published by Columbia University Press in 2011. She is coeditor of Screening Nature: Cinema Beyond the Human (Berghahn, 2013). Anat is leading the research project "Screening Nature: Flora, Fauna, and the Moving image," a series of curated screenings on the relationship between nonhuman beings, documentary, and experimental film. Anat works at the intersection of Continental philosophy and visual culture, and has published articles on film, Simone Weil, Giorgio Agamben, and ethical veganism. Her new book project explores the biopolitics of film, and the idea of a vegan cinema.

Anat Pick


Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, PhD

Senior Lecturer, Gender and Cultural Studies, The University of Sydney

"Dingo Stories: Animal Practices, Animal Imaginaries."

Sponsor: Feminist Animal Studies fellowship in honor of Marti Kheel

Dr. Fiona Probyn-Rapsey is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, at the University of Sydney, Australia. Since 2011 she has been Network leader of HARN: Human Animal Research Network at U of Sydney.   Fiona is vice-Chair of the AASG - Australian Animal Studies Group and on the Editorial boards of Environmental Humanities, Australian Humanities Review and also Animal Studies Journal.  She is author of Made to Matter (SUP 2013) and Co-editor (with Jay Johnston) of Animal Death (2013).

Fiona Probyn-Rapsey


Saskia Stucki, MLaw

PhD candidate, law, at the University of Basel; coordinator of the doctoral program "Law and Animals" of the Law School of the University of Basel.

"Basic Rights for Animals - A Critical Analysis of Contemporary Animal Protection Law and  Legal-Theoretical Foundations of a Legal Concept of Animal Rights.'"

Sponsor: NYU Animal Studies

Saskia Stucki, MLaw, is a PhD candidate in law at the University of Basel and coordinator of the doctoral program "Law and Animals" of the Law School of the University of Basel. She is currently completing her dissertation on basic rights for animals. Her main area of research comprises the critical analysis of contemporary animal protection law as well as the legal theory of animal personhood and animal rights. She is especially concerned with deconstructing and redefining the current notion of legal personhood in order to accommodate animal subjects and laying the legal-theoretical foundations for a legal concept of animal rights. Besides legal animal studies, other areas of interest include international human rights law and international humanitarian law, with particular regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Saskia Stucki