Donna Haraway Reading Groups as a site for transdisciplinary learning and for nurturing transformative social change

Presenter: Glen Cousquer, Anna Morgan, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Whitfield, Kate Williams, Taryn Mansfield

Session Description

Challenging the arbitrary categories, structures of thought and biases that characterise society requires us to create safe, non-judgmental spaces in which that work can be undertaken. Donna Haraway’s thinking explores beyond the frontiers that constrain traditional disciplines and is particularly relevant to the development of transdisciplinary approaches. We propose an asynchronous activity that explores how five postgraduate students (Conservation Medicine and International Animal Welfare) and their supervisor created such a space, establishing a Haraway Reading Group and drawing on this space to develop their listening skills, critical understanding and thinking. Our group explores Haraway’s work in feminist theory, material-semiotics & political consciousness. Within our dissertations, Haraway’s work has allowed us to explore questions on equality, diversity and inclusion, in areas as diverse as conservation photography, the ethics of language in the animal welfare sciences and conservation, decolonisation of self and conservation and the potential for Haraway’s concept of the Plantationocene to transform how we care for the orang-utan. Our asynchronous activity will consist of a short online slideshow and Discussion Board where participants can engage with us throughout the day. We will discuss how our reading group provides a space for transdisciplinary teaching and learning. We will consider how this allows us to explore and develop our understanding of equality, diversity, inclusion and social justice and, specifically, how this has led us to reimagine the moral community as we seek transformative change. We will illustrate how Haraway’s work is relevant across disciplines through social justice themes, which permeate everyday life, academia, and society. We conclude that exploring Haraway’s work as part of a reading group breaks down disciplinary boundaries and promotes engagement with different ways of knowing and with knowledge from different fields. Such exchanges can promote a fuller, richer and more equitable understanding of the World.