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Human-Animal Studies[1] (HAS) is a relatively new academic field that examines the complex and multidimensional relationships between nonhuman and human animals[2]. It includes scholars from sociology, biology, veterinary medicine, health science, social work, criminology, art history, anthropology, film studies, history, environmental studies, psychology, literary studies, geography, political science, religious studies, philosophy, women's studies, gender studies, and ethnic studies.

HAS scholars recognize the lack of scholarly attention given to non-human animals and to the relationships between human and non-human, especially in the light of the magnitude of animal representations, symbols, stories and their actual physical presence in human societies and cultures. Like feminist scholars in the 1970s, these scholars have been inserting the animal into the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Rather than a unified approach, the field currently consists of several methods adapted from the several participating disciplines to encompass human-nonhuman relationships and occasional efforts to develop sui generis methods.


Example Areas of Study

  • The social construction of animals and what it means to be animal
  • The zoological gaze
  • The human-animal bond
  • Parallels between human-animal interactions and human-technology interactions
  • The symbolism of animals in literature and art
  • The history of animal domestication
  • The intersections of speciesism, racism, and sexism
  • The place of animals in human-occupied spaces
  • The religious significance of animals throughout human history
  • Exploring the cross-cultural ethical treatment of animals
  • The critical evaluation of animal abuse and exploitation
  • Mind, Self, and Personhood in nonhuman animals

Growth of the Field

There are now twenty-three college programs in HAS or a related field in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Israel and the Netherlands, as well as an additional eight veterinary school programs in North America, and over thirty HAS organizations in the US, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Israel, Sweden, and Switzerland.

There are now three primary lists for HAS scholars and students: H-Animal, the Human-Animal Studies listserve, and NILAS, as well as the Critical Animal Studies list.

There are now over a dozen journals covering HAS issues, many of them founded in the last decade, and hundreds of HAS books, most of them published in the last decade. Brill, Berg, Johns Hopkins, Purdue, Columbia, Reaktion, Palgrave-McMillan, University of Minnesota, University of Illinois, and Oxford all offer either a HAS series or a large number of HAS books.

In addition, in 2006, Animals and Society Institute began hosting the Human-Animal Studies Fellowship, a six-week program in which pre- and post-doctoral scholars work on a HAS research project at a university under the guidance of host scholars and distance peer scholars. There are also a handful of HAS conferences per year, including those organized by ISAZ and NILAS, and the Minding Animals conference, held in 2009 in Australia.

Finally, there are more HAS courses being taught now than ever before. The ASI Website's course pages list over 300 courses (primarily in North America, but also including Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, and Poland) in twenty-nine disciplines at over 200 colleges and universities, not including over 100 law school courses.

Obstacles to Growth

The field’s interdisciplinary nature and a lack of theoretical innovations are major obstacles to the development of the field. More important, however, is the fact that outside of fields like veterinary science and ethology, most college disciplines are strenuously human-centered. This anthrocentrism, combined with the suspicion in some quarters that human-animal studies is a cover for animal activism has made it difficult for HAS to truly come into its own on college campuses. Some people, within and outside of the university environment, think that human-animal studies is, if not threatening, trivial and superficial.

Example papers from Society & Animals

  • "Placing the Wild in the City:'Thinking with' Melbourne’s Bats" (Thomson 2007)
  • "More Than a Furry Companion: The Ripple Effect of Companion Animals on Neighborhood Interactions and Sense of Community" (Wood et al. 2007)
  • "Engaging the Animal in the Moving Image" (Porter 2006)
  • "Hunting and Illegal Violence Against Humans and Other Animals: Exploring the Relationship" (Flynn 2006)
  • "Between Ideals, Realities, and Popular Perceptions: An Analysis of the Multifaceted Nature of London Zoo" (Ito 2006)

Related Authors

  • Kenneth Shapiro
  • Arnold Arluke
  • Carol Adams
  • Frank Ascione
  • Juliet Clutton-Brock
  • Erica Fudge
  • Linda Kalof
  • James Serpell
  • Harriet Ritvo
  • Nigel Rothfels
  • Paul Waldau
  • Cary Wolfe
  • Jennifer Wolch
  • Donna Haraway
  • Steven Baker
  • Tom Beauchamp
  • Lynda Birke
  • Stephen R. L. Clark
  • Jonathan Burt
  • Marion Copeland
  • Jody Emel
  • Greta Gaard
  • Clifton P. Flynn
  • Joan Dunayer
  • Marti Kheel
  • Phillip Armstrong
  • Clinton Sanders
  • Leslie Irvine

Scholarly and Academic Journals

  • Society & Animals
  • Anthrozoös
  • Humanimalia
  • Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
  • Journal of Animal Law & Ethics
  • Journal for Critical Animal Studies


  • Adams, Carol and Donovan, Josephine (1995). Animals & Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations. Duke University Press.
  • Adams, Carol J. 2009. The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, Twentieth Anniversary Edition. New York: Continuum.
  • Arluke, Arnold and Clinton Sanders, eds. 2009. Between the Species: A Reader in Human–Animal Relationships. Boston, Mass.: Pearson Education.
  • Armstrong, Susan and Richard Botzler. 2008. The Animal Ethics Reader. London, England: Continuum.
  • Baker, Steve (2000). Picturing the Beast: Animals, Identity, and Representation. University of Illinois Press.
  • Bekoff, Marc (2007). The Emotional Lives of Animals. New World Library.
  • Bekoff, Marc, ed. 2007. Encyclopedia of Human–Animal Relationships. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  • Donovan, Josephine and Carol Adams, eds. 1996. Beyond Animal Rights: A Feminist Caring Ethic for the Treatment of Animals. New York: Continuum.
  • Eisnitz, Gail. 2007. Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.
  • Flynn, Clifton, ed. 2008. Social Creatures: A Human and Animal Studies Reader. New York: Lantern Books.
  • Franklin, Adrian. 1999. Animals and Modern Cultures: A Sociology of Human–Animal Relations in Modernity. London: Sage.
  • Gaard, Greta (1993). Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, & Nature. Temple University Press.
  • Haraway, Donna. 1989. Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science. New York: Routledge, Chapman & Hall.
  • Haraway, Donna. 2007. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Kalof, Linda (2007). Looking at Animals in Human History. Reaktion Books.
  • Kalof, Linda and Amy Fitzgerald, eds. 2007. The Animals Reader: The Essential Classic and Contemporary Writings. Oxford and New York: Berg.
  • Kalof, Linda and Brigitte Resl, eds. 2007. A Cultural History of Animals. Oxford and New York: Berg.
  • Manning, Aubrey and James Serpell, eds. 1994. Animals and Human Society: Changing Perspectives. London: Routledge.
  • Masson, Jeffrey Moussaieff and Susan McCarthy. 1995. When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals. New York: Delta Trade Paperbacks.
  • Nibert, David. 2002. Animal Rights; Human Rights: Entanglements of Oppression and Domination. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Podberscek, Anthony L., Elizabeth S. Paul, and James A. Serpell. 2000. Companion Animals and Us. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Regan, Tom and Peter Singer, eds. 1989. Animal Rights and Human Obligations. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
  • Rothfels, Nigel, ed. 2002. Representing Animals. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Serpell, James (1996). In the Company of Animals: A Study of Human-Animal Relationships. Cambridge University Press.
  • Singer, Peter. 2002. Animal Liberation, rev. ed. New York: Harper Perennial.
  • Spiegel, Marjorie. 1996. The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery. New York: Mirror Books.
  • Sunstein, Cass R. and Martha Nussbaum, eds. 2004. Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Wolch, Jennifer and Emel, Jody (1998). Animal Geographies: Place, Politics, and Identity in the Nature-Culture Borderlands. New Left Books.
  • Arluke, Arnold and Clinton Sanders, 1996. Regarding Animals. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

See also


  1. ^ The term is often mistakenly used synonymously with animal studies which is the use of animals in laboratory research.
  2. ^ [1] Animals & Society Institute

External links



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