Every Fall and Spring the University of Washington Simpson Center for the Humanities accepts funding applications for new Crossdisciplinary Research Clusters, with the goal of encouraging collaboration between faculty and graduate students across different disciplines. This past January the Simpson Center announced the funding of four new Clusters, including one, ‘The Postcolonial Animals’, which was co-organized by UW Geography professor Michael Brown. In addition to Dr. Brown’s help, the Cluster’s organization was driven by Dr. María Elena García (CHID/JSIS) and Dr. Louisa Mackenzie (French and Italian Studies). Already Cluster has attracted the confirmed participation of eight additional faculty, seven graduate students (including Geographers Katie Gillespie, Will McKeithen, and Skye Naslund!), and four faculty and graduate students from a regional network of scholars.
This Cluster hopes to grapple with the ‘question of the animal’ by organizing lunch meetings and workshops, as well as public talks with invited speakers. In the long run the Cluster hopes to work toward establishing a Mellon Foundation John E. Sawyer Seminar on the Comparative Study of Culture and Critical Animal Studies minor and graduate certificate. From an academic perspective, the Cluster hopes to push Critical Animal Studies to think with intellectual traditions outside of the Western frame which it has traditionally drawn upon. Toward this goal they will also draw on work drawn from intersectionality and the Global South. They hope that this will help them to better understand the global power differentials which surround the production of notions of animality.