International Human–Animal Studies
Summer School

Companion Animals in (Late) Modernity:
The Shared Lives of Humans and Other

3–7 June 2019
ICS-ULisboa Lisbon


Margo DeMello

Animals & Society Institute, USA

Received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from U.C. Davis in 1995. She is an Adjunct Professor at Canisius College in the Anthrozoology Masters Program, and the Program Director for Human-Animal Studies at the Animals and Society Institute. Her books include Bodies of Inscription: A Cultural History of the Modern Tattoo Community (2000), Stories Rabbits Tell: A Natural and Cultural History of a Misunderstood Creature (2003), Low-Carb Vegetarian (2004), Why Animals Matter: The Case for Animal Protection (2007), The Encyclopedia of Body Adornment (2007), Feet and Footwear (2009), Teaching the Animal: Human Animal Studies Across the Disciplines (2010), Faces Around the World (2012), Animals and Society: An Introduction to Human-Animal Studies (2012), Speaking for Animals: Animal Autobiographical Writing (2012), Inked: Tattoos and Body Art around the World (2014), Body Studies: An Introduction (2014), and Mourning Animals: Rituals and Practices Surrounding Animal Death (2016).

Verónica Policarpo

ICS-ULisboa, Portugal

Sociologist and researcher at ICS-ULisboa, in the field of Human-Animal Studies. Since October 2018 she coordinates the project “CLAN –  Children-Animals’ Friendships: challenging boundaries between humans and non-humans in contemporary societies" (PTDC/SOC 28415/2017). She is a member of the LIFE and ATS (Environment and Society) Research Groups and the coordinator of "Animal Wonder – Reading Group on Human-Animal Studies @ICS-ULisboa". She has published about companion animals, and about animals and the sustainable development agenda.



Nora Schuurman

University of Turku, Finland

Academy Research Fellow at the University of Turku, Finland. She is a human geographer specialised in animal geography, and currently studies human–animal care in her project “Landscapes of Interspecies Care: Working the Human–Animal Boundary in Care Practices”. Her areas of expertise include human–animal relationality, eco-nationalism and cultural conceptions of animal welfare and death, with a specific focus on human relations with horses and pets. Schuurman has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and co-edited the book Affect, Space and Animals. (Routledge, 2016) with Jopi Nyman. She has been teaching HAS for several years.


David Redmalm

University of Uppsala, Sweden

Lisa Strömbeck

Swedish artist, living and working in Borrby, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark. She works with photography, video and collage, and has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the world.  A recurring theme in her art works, is human´s relationship with other animals. With simple means, she stunts power games and examines the hierarchies that exist. She has examined her relationship with her own dog in works such as & “I Love You. You are Mine” (2000) and in the video trilogy “In Memory of All Those Who Work Without Ever Getting a Reward” (2007). She has interacted with stray dogs in different parts of the world in works like”Vacation in Goa”; (1997), &”New Friends” (2007) and “Hierarchy” (2008). The photo series “Uniform” (2008-9) is another example of a political work where people and their companion animals, act in relation to the animals that died for the furs people wear. The photo series In Bed, which she started 2015 and still works on, describes the body contact between people and their dogs.


Pets are good to think with

“Pets are good to think with,” Erika Fudge points out in her book Pets (2008). Fudge paraphrases Claude Lévi-Strauss, who famously suggested that animals are good to think with, as non-human animals play such a central role in symbolism, mythologies and rituals. This role has been transformed during the course of modernization, to embody discourses of nature and culture and to keep animals in their designed ‘place’ in relation to humans. In the West today, the animals at the centre of the stories we tell each other are not first and foremost cattle, prey animals or mythological creatures, but pets. Cats, dogs and other companion animals inhabit human homes, roam through parks and market squares, and live on the streets. They appear as characters in books, TV shows and TV games, and are figured in lifestyle magazines and blockbuster movies. Companion animals are bought and sold and are marketed online, and while many are adopted into loving homes, a large number are abandoned and end up in shelters, where many are euthanized.  

Companion animals

Companion animals play an integral part in the lives of many humans. They are regarded as friends and family members by their owners, who often adjust their way of life to the needs of their animal companions, and invest in a stable mutual relationship. However, companion animals embody tensions inherent to Western culture. They are simultaneously understood as instinctive biological organisms and as sentient beings capable of feeling complex emotions and participating in social relationships. They are regarded as animals belonging to the realm of nature and human-like creatures who have passed over culture’s threshold and are treated as commodities. Consequently, they inhabit a fragile and unstable grey zone, recognized both as human and non-human, and the stories of companion animals reflect abstract dichotomies that shape animal lives during late modernity. Companion animals, however, actively engage in everyday practices with humans and other non-humans. In this contingent and unstable dance, animals co-construct a world and a life shared with humans


This course examines the ambiguous status of companion animals in modern society, and works as an introduction to theoretical and methodological issues central to the field of human-animal studies. The course also intends to be a laboratory of experimentation of new ideas for young scholars as well as guiding participants in their ongoing projects on human–animal relationships. The course focuses on the following questions:

  • How do companion animals and humans engage in practices inside and outside home and the co-building of hybrid communities? To what extent are these practices human-centred?

  • How are dichotomies such as nature/culture and animal/human played out in human-animal relationships? How do human–animal relationships produce animality?

  • How can animal agency be theoretically conceptualized? How are power relations enacted and negotiated between humans and companion animals?

  • What kind of methods can be used to study human–animal relationships?

  • How do humans grieve the death of companion animals?


Qualifications for applicants

The course spans over one week – five full days of lectures, discussions and a field trip. The participants will prepare by reading a collection of mandatory and optional texts. Each participant will also present a planned or ongoing human–animal studies thesis project, followed by a discussion with lecturers and course participants.



Qualifications for applicants

  • The applicant must hold a Master’s degree, and be preferentially accepted to a PhD programme, in any field of social sciences and humanities (sociology, geography, history, anthropology, ethnology, literature, psychology, philosophy, law, etc.). Degrees in other disciplines with a link to the study of human–animal relations will also be considered (biology, veterinary science etc.). In all cases, the applicant should have basic knowledge of the theories and methods within social sciences or humanities.

  • The applicant should be planning or working on a thesis project connected to human–animal studies.


Module 1:  Theory & Concepts: Human Animal Studies: re-mapping the field

Keynote Lecturer: Margo de Mello


Module 2: Theory & Concepts: Animal practices, human-animal relationality and animal agency

Lecturers: Verónica Policarpo, Nora Schuurman and David Redmalm


Module 3: Methodologies: Experimenting with methods in HAS

Lecturers: Nora Schuurman, Verónica Policarpo and David Redmalm


Module 4: Methodologies: Dogs and humans: hierarchies and intimacy in my artwork

Lecturer: Lisa Strömbeck


Module 5: Theory and concepts: Death, loss and grief for a companion animal

Lecturers: David Redmalm and Nora Schuurman

HAS Hub@ICS-ULisboa Seminar 2019:  Children-Animals Relationships

Invited Keynote: Margo de Mello

Title: Rabbits and Children: A Complicated History


Field Visit to Grupo Lobo 

Iberian Wolf Wildlife Conservation Centre (CRLI)

The enclosures where the wolves live are large and densely vegetated as we try to recreate the conditions of their natural habitat, therefore the observation of the animals is not guaranteed.

If you have binoculars, please bring them.

The visit is on a pedestrian path and lasts for about 2 hours, so it is important to bring comfortable shoes, preferably with a rough sole. Several stops are made along the way to talk to visitors about the wolf in the world, the wolf in Portugal, the history of the centre and the animals that live here.

For security reasons we do not allow strollers.

We have a small shop where you can buy some souvenirs. We do not accept card payments.

You can see here how to get to us:



A primeira edição da nossa escola de verão em Human-Animal Studies foi um sucesso! Agradecemos a todos os que estiveram envolvidos na sua realização e participação! Deixamos agora um pequeno vídeo com algumas recordações dos momentos passados pelos alunos e oradores no decorrer desta escola de verão.


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