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War: The unposed ‘question of the animal’

By Dr Steve Hobden, University of East London, UK
Presented by Institute for Social Justice, Australian Catholic University (ACU)

Abstract: This paper brings a posthuman focus to one of International Relations’ central concerns, war. It is an indication of the deeply human-centred character of the discipline that almost none of its central texts even mention the very significant roles that non-human animals have in the conduct of war. A central part of our argument is that the character of war itself would have been radically different but for the forced participation by an enormous range of non-human animals. Even though with the improvements in transportation over the last century non-human animals are less evident in the role of the movements of people and equipment, they still play a significant number of roles in the contemporary war-machines of wealthy countries. Drawing on literature from critical animal studies, sociology, and memoirs the study discusses the enormous variety of roles that non-human animals have played in the conduct of war. It also examines the character of human – non-human animal relations in times of war.

Dr Steve Hobden is a senior lecturer in International Politics. He has an undergraduate degree in International Development, and a masters degree in International Relations from the University of East Anglia. He completed a PhD in the Department of International Politics at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth where he also taught for ten years. Currently his prime teaching responsibility is in the area of International Relations theory, and he teaches modules related to that topic at levels 1, 2 and masters. He also has a long-term interest in the internal and external politics of China and teaches at level 2 module on this topic. Steve’s most recent, and on-going research is on the subject of complexity theory and international relations.

Chaired by: Associate Professor Emilian Kavalski
Discussant: Professor Colin Wight, University of Sydney

Council Room, Level 11, Tenison Woods House,
8-20 Napier Street,
North Sydney

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