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International Animal Rights ConferenceInternational Animal Rights Conference

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Friday, 11.09.2015   11:00-11:50   Room C
Imagining cow being
Terry Hurtado

Academic study of animal behaviour is mostly conceptual: the mind moves closer to the reality of the other in a conceptual way, from the outside, through human eyes. To avoid anthropomorphism, imagination is discouraged, and is thus unexplored as a tool. Yet imagination, grounded in careful detailed observation of the animal`s body, movement and behavior, can open a window of possibility for a complementary way of understanding an animal`s experience. We propose here to attempt, recruiting the aid of the imagination, a movement into the corporeal reality of a cow from the inside, through her eyes - opening another pathway to interspecies empathy. Empathy is key to human moral action, yet it can be difficult to empathize with the condition of those whose realities we cannot relate to in a bodily, concrete way. In a workshop format, we guide participants into a 25 minute visualization experience where we use sensorial imagination to imagine becoming and being a cow. The visualization was developed by anchoring our imagination in detailed sense perception of a cow`s body, interactions and environment, and mimicking some of her actions, then freeing the imagination to move our corporeal experience closer to that of the animal. This is an experimental way of imaginative enquiry, which we have trialled at the Postgraduate Society Conference at Plymouth University and with the student body at Schumacher College, and which we continue developing through participant feedback. The workshop was also been accepted to the Making Sense of the Animal/Human Bond, ID-Net conference in July 2015 at Oxford. Since the room for this workshop is quite small, the same workshop will take place a second time on Saturday at 10:00.













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