Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lunch Chat (1/23): Wildspace: The Cage, The Supermax, and the Zoo

Professor Morin
Now that classes are rolling again, we're happy to bring you the first Philosophy Lunch Chat of the term, featuring Karen Morin, Professor of Geography and Associate Dean of Social Sciences, who will guide us through a discussion comparing the "caging" of humans in prisons and animals in zoos. Comparisons between humans confined in maximum-security solitary confinement cells in prisons, and nonhuman animals confined in cages in zoos and other zoo-like structures, offer a number of opportunities to compare the experiences, ethics, and politics of caging. Professor Morin will pose some questions about the similarities and differences across these practices and ask what, if anything, the prisoner rights movement can learn from the animal rights movement, where arguably more progressive change has occurred over the past 40 years on behalf of animals confined in zoos compared with men and women confined in prison cages.

Other questions we might discuss:
  • What might be some similarities/differences in the day-to-day experience of being caged for both humans and animals, particularly the psychological/behavioral effects? How do human and non-human animals experience and/or act upon/resist their experience of enclosure? 
  • How can we explain the various "disciplinary regimes" or mandates that socially validate the caging of humans and nonhumans? How are these similar for humans and animals, and how different? How have these changed for zoos and prisons over the past 40 years? 
  • What have been the ethical/moral, social, political, and/or economical challenges to the caging of animals in zoos, brought about by the animal rights movement? What have been the challenges to the caging of humans in maximum-security solitary confinement, brought about by the prisoner rights movement? How has each of these institutions evolved/ devolved over the past 40 years? 
  • If indeed it is the case that more "progress" has been made on behalf of animals in caged in zoos compared with men caged in prisons, to what can we attribute this transformation? Can the prisoner rights movement learn anything from the animal rights movement, or vice versa, with the goal advancing both human rights and animal rights?
Hope you'll join us for pizza, salad, and stimulating informal conversation between faculty, students, staff, and community members in the lovely Willard–Smith Library (Vaughan Literature Building) at noon on Thursday, January 23rd.