Alice Hovorka, dean and professor in York University’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, has co-edited a new book, A Research Agenda for Animal Geographies (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021), with Sandra McCubbin from the Government of Canada and Lauren Van Patter from Queen’s University. Launched at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers on April 7, the book is set to be published on June 25 and will be available for purchase on the publisher’s website.
Part of the Elgar Research Agendas educational book series, outlining the future of research in a given area, A Research Agenda for Animal Geographies explores the innovative and thriving field of animal geographies and analyzes how humans think about, place and engage with animals.
Hovorka was invited by Elgar as a leading scholar of human-animal relations (largely through her Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded The Lives of Animals Research Group) to explore her sub-discipline of animal geographies in provocative ways, and to map out its potential directions. In turn, she invited two emerging scholars to join her in visioning and editing this volume.
"It was a wonderful opportunity for us to collectively engage with our scholarly community," says Hovorka. "The resulting volume is exciting and inspiring, thanks to the contributors who joined us in this endeavour."
Chapters delve into how animals shape human identities and social dynamics, as well as how broader processes influence the circumstances and experiences of animals. The book demonstrates opportunities for animal geographies to engage creatively with diverse movements, including industrial farm workers’ rights, intersectional feminism, the environmental movement, racial equality and decolonization. Critical and timely, contributions from top and emerging scholars suggest that it is time to bring the animals outwards into broader geographical dialogue to address pressing contemporary issues such as climate change.
"My co-editors and I frame A Research Agenda for Animal Geographies as a call-to-action for animal geographers to use their scholarly insights and their activist engagements to address socio-ecological crises, to facilitate positive change, and to ensure allyship with the most vulnerable nonhuman and human animals," Hovorka explains. "This volume, then, helps readers understand how animals are so wrapped up with human lives, circumstances and structures that we barely see them; our treatment of animals – and indeed our mistreatment of them – is at the root of the grand challenges of our time, be it the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic or anti-Black racism. Ultimately, precarious, unjust and unsustainable human-animal relations lead to compromised health for animals, people and the planet."
An important read for animal and human geographers, this will be a foundational text for emerging scholars interested in critical perspectives on human-environment relations and societal dynamics. Its grounding in historical evaluation, discussion of scholarly innovation in the field and the opportunities to reflect on the topic in a time of socio-ecological crisis will also be helpful for more established scholars.