SOCI8033

Co-presence – Human-animal relationships in modern cities

Offer semester
2nd semester

Lecture time
Wednesday 19:00-21:50

Lecture venue
CPD-2.42

Course description

Animals are everywhere in modern societies – on the Internet, in the media, and as symbols in our languages and cultural practices. Animals are also nowhere in modern cities – factory farms and slaughter houses are obscured, wild animals are segregated, and urban animals are managed. Except for the animals people brought in their homes as pets and those kept in entertainment facilities, we live separate lives.

In a globalised world amidst environmental crisis, consumption ethics and justice, the entanglement and future of human-animal relationships have become an increasingly urgent topic of inquiry. Is vegetarianism simply another dietary trend? Could companion animals fill the lonely hearts of city dwellers? How should we get rid of cruelty and violence against animals? Should animals have a rightful place in our legal system? Is there a species specific boundary of ethics and biotechnology? These are a few among many questions we face with human-animal co-presence in modern cities.

In this course, we will set our scope of inquiry under the discipline of Human Animal Studies and reflect our manifold relationships with animals, especially through the media representations and cultural practices in modern cities, with particular connections to local experiences in Hong Kong.

Course learning outcomes

On completing the course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand key theoretical concepts and debates in human-animal studies and human-animal relationships.
  2. Reflect on their daily interactions with animals and consumption of animal products in relations to global connection and development.
  3. Understand the importance of human decision and habits in affecting the lives and welfare of animals in urban cities.
  4. Aware of the global development of animal rights movement and the relevance to human/animal liberation and the environment.

Assessment

TasksWeighting
Participation and discussion30%
Reflective essay20%
Presentation20%
Project30%

Required reading

Ascione, F. 2008. The International Handbook of Animal Abuse and Cruelty: Theory, Research and Application. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press

Kalof, L. 2017. The Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Taylor, N. and Twine, R. 2014. The Rise of Critical Animal Studies: From the Margins to the Centre. Routledge. London, New York: Routledge.

Course co-ordinator and teachers