Distinguished Lecture Series: 2018-2019

Distinguished Lecture Series for the 2018-2019 Academic Year

  • Sept. 27, 2018 – Dr. Lisa Warden, “The Street Dog and the Slum Dweller: Twin Victims of Neoliberal Urban Renewal in India”
  • Oct. 1, 2018 – Lori Gruen, Coordinator of Wesleyan Animal Studies, William Griffin Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University, “Resistance Self-Respect: Another Challenge for Liberalism”
  • Oct. 4, 2018 – John Whittier Treat, Professor Emeritus of East Asian Languages and Literature at Yale: “What Stalks Japanese Literature Today: The Animals Approach”
  • Nov. 1, 2018 – Professor Jessica Eisen, University of Alberta, “Feminist Jurisprudence for Farmed Animals”
  • Nov. 5, 2018 – Professor Maneesha Deckha, Faculty of Law, “Law, Animals, and Culture: Exploring the Intersections through Critically-Oriented and Interdisciplinary Research”
  • Nov. 29, 2018 – Tayler Zavitz, MA, Dept. of Sociology, “Empathy as Terrorism? The Criminalization of Animal Activism in Canada”
  • January 17, 2019 – Professor Maneesha Deckha, Faculty of Law. “What is Critical Animal Studies?”
  • Feb. 13, 2019 – Patricia Sims, documentary filmmaker. “Elephants in the Room”
  • Feb. 28, 2019 – Professor David Clough, “The Challenge of Christian Animal Ethics”
  • May 15, 2019 – Graduate Writing Workshop

Graduate Writing Workshop: May 15, 2019

“Recasting Animals and Interspecies Relations: Contesting Anthropocentrism Across Disciplines”

[L to R, front row:] Tayler Zavitz (UVic), Maneesha Deckha (UVic), Ranjana Basu (Royal Roads). [Back row:] Darren Chang (Queens U), Oliver Lazarus (NYU), Ellen Campbell (UVic), Sonali Khurana (U of Alberta), Paulina Siemieniec (Queens), Assoc. Dean Freya Kodar (UVic Faculty of Law). [not shown: Holly Cecil, photo]
This inaugural Writing Workshop held May 15th brought together graduate students working in Critical Animal Studies both at the University of Victoria and from as far away as New York University, Queens University and the University of Edmonton. Held at the University of Victoria campus, the students presented research papers over this full-day conference, and then received constructive critical feedback from University of Victoria professors in their discipline.

This is the first of what we hope to become an annual graduate workshop. Many thanks to Professor Maneesha Deckha for organizing the event, and for the support from the University of Victoria Faculty of Law (through the Murray and Anne Fraser Endowment) and Associate Dean of Law, Freya Kodar.

February 28 – Professor David Clough, University of Chester. The Challenge of Christian Animal Ethics

(Co-hosted by the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society). Download Event Poster .

Organizations Promoting Plant-based Diets: 

February 13 – Patricia Sims

Documentary Filmmaker, Conservationist, World Elephant Day Founder

  • “Elephants in the Room”
  • Free lecture and film screening (Return to the Forest, narrated by William Shatner, 30 min.)
  • 4:00 – 5:30 p.m., David Turpin (Mathematics) Building, A110.
  • Co-hosted by the Faculty of Fine Arts, Film Studies Program
  • View lecture video

Patricia Sims works internationally as a wildlife documentary filmmaker and conservationist. Her films focus on a range of animals – from dolphins to elephants – and their interrelationships with humans and society, from traditional, ethical, and scientific perspectives.
This lecture will explain her research into the human-elephant relationship and the conservation challenges that elephants face. These topics inspired her two award-winning documentaries about elephant conservation in Thailand:
Return to the Forest andWhen Elephants Were Young (both narrated by William Shatner), and the creation of World Elephant Day in 2012. She will talk about some of the filmmaking challenges her crew faced over the five years these documentaries were in production. She will also share plans for World Elephant Day 2019 (August 12), the globally-recognized event bringing the world together to help elephants, and what people can do to help elephants to ensure their future survival.

Download Event Poster.

What is Critical Animal Studies?”

Professor Maneesha Deckha, Faculty of Law.

January 17, 2019 – 12:30 – 1:30 p.m., Fraser Building, Rm. 209

View lecture video.

Empathy as Terrorism? The Criminalization of Animal Activism in Canada
Tayler Zavitz, MA
Nov. 29th, 2018. 2:00 – 2:50 p.m.
Fraser Building, Rm. 209

Tayler provided a frank discussion of government and industry efforts to target and stifle animal rights activism in Canada. A long-time activist herself, and now a doctoral candidate at the University of Victoria, Tayler presented on her PhD research focusing on exposing and analyzing bogus criminal charges filed against animal advocates, the failure to prosecute illegal conduct by animal-use industries, lawsuits by animal-use industries designed to repress free speech, and state surveillance and terrorist labelling of peaceful activists.

Tayler Zavitz is a PhD candidate in the Sociology department at the University of Victoria, where her research focuses on the repression of animal activism in Canada, the expanding criminalization of dissent, and what this means for the future of activism in Canada. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Political Science with a minor in Sociology and a concentration in Public Law, as well as a Master’s degree in Critical Sociology, with a focus in Critical Animal Studies, from Brock University.

View Lecture video.

[Download event poster.]

  • Feminist Jurisprudence for Farmed Animals
    Professor Jessica Eisen, University of Alberta
    Thursday Nov. 1st, 2018. 12:30 – 1:20 p.m.
    Fraser Building, Rm. 158Jessica Eisen is an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law and an SJD Candidate at Harvard Law School.  Her research interests include animals and the law, constitutional and comparative constitutional law, equality and antidiscrimination law, feminist legal theory, intergenerational justice, and law and social movements.  Professor Eisen’s research has been published in Journal of Law and EqualityAnimal Law ReviewCanadian Journal of Poverty LawTransnational Legal TheoryQueen’s Law JournalICON: International Journal of Constitutional LawUniversity of British Columbia Law ReviewUniversity of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, and elsewhere.  She has studied at Barnard College, Columbia University (BA, Political Science and Human Rights Studies, 2004); The University of Toronto Faculty of Law (JD, 2009); Osgoode Hall Law School (LLM, 2014); and Harvard Law School (SJD candidate); and has worked at WeirFoulds LLP, the Ontario Ministry of Labour, and the Constitutional Law Branch of the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario.
  • Download Event Poster.

Law, Animals, and Culture: Exploring the Intersections through Critically-Oriented and Interdisciplinary Research

Maneesha Deckha
Professor and Lansdowne Chair & Director of Graduate Studies Faculty of Law, University of Victoria
Monday, November 5th, 2018, 11:30 am – 12:50 pm

Since starting at UVic in 2002, Professor Deckha has worked to bring the fields of feminist postcolonial theory, critical race theory, animal ethics, and animal law into conversation with each other. She will present an overview of the themes and topics that she has addressed in this regard, introducing some of the major debates in feminism, critical multiculturalism, decolonization, and animal ethics and advocacy along the way, with which her work has engaged.

Presented by the Anthropology Colloquium. View event poster.

View Lecture video.

The Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives (CAPI), in collaboration with ASRI, present:

John Whittier Treat, Professor Emeritus of East Asian Languages and Literature at Yale

For more information, visit CAPI.

The Victoria Colloquium on Political, Legal and Social Thought,  in collaboration with ASRI, presented:

Dr. Lori Gruen, William Griffin Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University

“Resistance Self-Respect: Another Challenge for Liberalism”

Monday, October 1st, 2:30-4pm, Cornett Building, A 129

For more information, visit Victoria Colloquium.

View Lecture video.


  • The Street Dog and the Slum Dweller: Twin Victims of Neoliberal Urban Renewal in India
  • Lisa Warden, PhD
  • Thursday Sept. 27th, 2018. 2:00 – 2:50 p.m.
  • Fraser Building, Rm. 209

Economic growth in emerging markets like India and China has lifted millions of people out of poverty. Data shows, however, that the attendant urban renewal drives that form part and parcel of the pursuit of prosperity in emerging economies has also pushed millions of the already poor into deeper poverty. Slum dwellers from Rio to Bangalore face mass, violent evictions in the name of urban “beautification” and renewal, resulting in a sharp increase in poverty indicators for those affected.

This presentation will show how the municipality’s treatment of India’s ubiquitous street dogs in Ahmedabad, the financial capital of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, holds up an uncanny mirror to that of the urban poor in that city in the push for urban renewal. The parallels in the treatment of both the street dogs and the slum dwellers in Ahmedabad during the study period included forced, violent evictions, often resulting in injury and even death; violation of due legal process; loss of livelihood; sharp decline in welfare; and the criminalization of dissent, and of poverty itself. The municipal corporation’s relegation of both groups to the status of “contaminating encroachers”, and the physical exile of both to “garbage” land on the city outskirts (in this case to the area landfill) points to a new, species-transcending divide in the neoliberal state in which development is by elites for elites: those who count versus those who don’t. Those who count are the economic actors, those able to spend, consume, and invest. The rest, regardless of species, are discarded.

Speaker bio:

Lisa Warden is a writer and independent scholar with a PhD in political philosophy and French literature from the University of Calgary. While living in India from 2008-2010 she worked in the field of dog population management (spay-neuter and rabies prevention). It was there that she happened upon the similarities between the treatment of street dogs and the urban poor. Her research on challenges in dog population management in India has been published in critical animal studies anthologies. Her current area of study focuses on parallels effects of neoliberal urban renewal schemes on street dogs and the urban poor in India.

She is currently an ASRI scholar (Animals & Society Research Initiative) at the University of Victoria, and is working on a book about street dogs in India.

Film Screening: Dominion

  • July 20th, 2018, 7:00 p.m.
  • University of Victoria, Faculty of Law, Fraser Building, Rm. #159
  • Admission: $5

Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara, “Dominion uses drones, hidden and handheld cameras to expose the dark underbelly of modern animal agriculture, questioning the morality and validity of humankind’s dominion over the animal kingdom” (rated 9.5 on IMDb). Co-hosted by ASRI and VIVA (Vancouver Island Vegan Association).

Event poster. Click to download poster (PDF).

Feb. 22nd, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Film Screening at Cinecenta: Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered

Featuring interviews with Vancouver Aquarium staff, cetacean researchers and animal behaviourists, Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered asks whether it is ethical to capture and confine such intelligent marine mammals.

Beluga Whale, Vancouver Aquarium. Photo by Stephen Salomons.


The screening came at a pivotal time, with the recent  announcement by the Vancouver Aquarium that they will finally end captivity of whales and dolphins. The Aquarium’s decision came as the result of sustained public opposition to aquarium practices and ongoing legal cases, the documentary having figured prominently in both.

Following the screening, a lively hour-long audience Q&A session and panel discussion ensued. The panel included:

  • the filmmaker Gary Charbonneau
  • Arden Beddoes, lawyer at Arvay Finlay LLP, and counsel in two recent cases involving the Aquarium
  • Rianna Burnham, doctoral fellow at the Whale Research Lab, University of Victoria
  • and History professor Dr. Jason Colby, author of Orca: How We Came to Know and Love the Ocean’s Greatest Predator.

Event Poster:  

Press Kit

Jan. 18th, 2018, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Installations event Jan. 18th

More information and presenter bio on Event Poster.