The Importance of Animal Studies for Culture Studies in Poland

Animal studies, especially in English-speaking countries, is currently shaping a new field of science which has an important influence on art and literary theory and criticism. In Polish research a theoretical foundation for animal studies in culture, for analysis and interpretation of art and literature where animals appear, is needed.

The aim of this innovatory project is to introduce the interdisciplinary perspective of animal studies to culture studies in Poland: presenting animals as acting agents despite the fact that in Poland interest in human issues is more predominant. In Anglo-American and German-speaking countries, attentiveness to animals has revealed new changes in the culture and ethics of human interaction with animals. Practitioners and scholars have begun to reflect on the closeness and distance between species so highly visible in areas paradigmatic for hierarchical relations of people and animals (at a zoo, in a circus, laboratory, or slaughterhouse).
 


This project promotes and arguments for collective relations with animals. It aims to demonstrate, by analysing the theory of acknowledged philosophers such as Jacques Derrida, ethicists like Peter Singer and well-known literary texts and works of art, that we should change our relationship with animals as too much suffering is inflicted on creatures that are sentient like man. This has been proven by science and now is the time to highlight  this problem in the humanities.

One of the activities planned within the project is to organise an international conference which will encourage academics in Poland to express their views on animal matters from a new, friendly, and ethical perspective. Moreover, literary and cultural texts and artworks will be analysed in a philosophical and ethical context. There have been many authors, both in the past and today who write about animals. Animals have been present in culture for a long period, however, only recently has their presence caused new reactions that result in the critical approach of unlimited human activity that takes into account the interests of animals. An important premise of the research is its practical application and a belief in the ability to influence people's attitudes through art and literature. Such a symposium, the first of its kind in Poland of that scale, will be an opportunity to invite people who strive to change the perception of animals in culture both in this country and abroad. The conference will be accompanied by an exhibition of contemporary art, as it is today’s art, critical and involved, that also reflects the new transformations and beliefs in the field of animal studies. The post-conference publication and exhibition catalogue will outline the most important contributions to the development of animal studies in Poland. All activities described in the project will also be presented on a website where the first results will be published. The website will be a place to promote the project and animal studies in Poland and abroad. There are many reasons why one would study animals: from fascination to a concern over the downgrading of the creatures’ worth in culture. However the most important may be to improve animals’ poor living conditions.

Authors of the project:
Anna Barcz  & Dorota Łagodzka

Tutor:
Professor Grażyna Borkowska

 

 

 

 

 


 

Instytut Badań Literackich Polskiej Akademii Nauk

ul. Nowy Świat 72, 00-330 Warszawa, tel. (22) 826-99-45, 6572-895, faks. (22) 826-99-45