Viva La Vegan!

Don’t miss out on the First Annual Oceania Critical Animal Studies conference to be held at the University of Canberra Saturday 6 July, titled Animal Liberation and Social Justice: An Intersectional Approach to Social Change. Check out what Lara Drew, an Oceania committee member of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies has to say about the conference and what it is about.


What’s the history of the ICAS?
The Institute for Critical Animal Studies (ICAS) was founded in 2001. ICAS was formed to challenge the repression of animal and earth liberationists and provide credibility to radical theories and actions from the earth and animal liberation movements. ICAS is the first interdisciplinary scholarly center in higher education dedicated to establishing and expanding the field of Critical Animal Studies (CAS).
Founded in 2001, the Center on Animal Liberation Affairs (CALA) was founded by Anthony J. Nocella, II and Steve Best, which came out of the notable book Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (Lantern Books 2004).  In 2007 CALA formerly changed its name to the Institute for Critical Animal Studies (ICAS).
Why did you decide to launch ICAS in Australia this year?
Myself and the other fantastic Oceania committee members Carolyn Drew, Jess Ison and Colin Salter decided to launch ICAS Oceania for a range of reasons, but most notably because the field of CAS in the Australia-Pacific region is not well-known and provides an important framework for animal liberation and social justice. CAS is much more established in the USA and Europe and is in some way marginalised and ‘behind’ in this region as both a theory and practice in both the academic and activist communities. CAS is underpinned by animal liberation aiming to eliminate and abolish the oppression of human and nonhuman animals. CAS seeks to establish a holistic total liberation movement for nonhuman animals, humans, and the earth. So CAS not only includes animal liberation but seeks to include a larger social justice framework which also rejects, for example, homophobia, racism, sexism, classism, ableism, speciesism and so on.  So we decided to launch ICAS in the Australia – Pacific region to raise awareness and to educate others about CAS theory and practice.
What do you hope to achieve with the first event in Australia?
We hope that this event will raise awareness of CAS theory and practice and act as a solid influence to the academic, student, and activist communities concerning animal liberation and other social justice issues prominent in this region. This event aims to make the explicit linkage of scholarly research and activism promoting an empowering and transformative agenda rooted in process of social transformation both inside the academy and in activist communities.
The idea of an intersectional approach to animal liberation and social justice is not well known or well established among the academic, student, or activist communities in the Australia-Pacific region. So this event will increase awareness and contribute to the solidification of CAS theory and practice and make linkages with other social movements. CAS central aim is to promote theory-to-action politics and solidarity with movements to raise awareness and abolish about all systems of domination.    
Why do you think Animal Liberation is a social justice issue?
CAS is about promoting holistic intersectional change not only at the level of animal liberation but also at the level of social justice. CAS rejects the single issue focus of other animal protection approaches and includes a larger social justice framework. In other words, CAS promotes an intersectional approach to social change by challenging all forms of oppression and domination. Our philosophy is underpinned by the concept of ‘total liberation’ which views the oppression of humans, animals and earth as interlinking issues and while it is recognised that different oppressed groups hold different histories and daily experiences, these experiences are generally rooted in a similar system of oppression as a result of the overarching system of ‘domination’.
How do you think academic people can influence the mainstream towards a vegan lifestyle?
ICAS looks at bridging the activist-academic gap as academics may not produce work that is of use to activists; and, similarly, activists may not use theory and research to guide practice. This type of work offers a way to influence and educate others (including the mainstream) about the use of animals, other prominent social justice issues and at the same time encouraging a form of politicized engagement with the food system itself promoting a vegan lifestyle.
Who are some of the speakers giving presentations at the event?
We have an excellent range of speakers - local, national and international speakers - academics, activists and students. To name a few we have Livia Boscardin, Bruce Arnold, Ruth Hatten, Nick Pendergrast, Barbara Pini and Emma Hurst. We also have Bede Carmody (from A Poultry Place Animal Sanctuary) and Carolina Trivino. That is only a teaser, we have many more and soon we will have a full speakers program up available on the website.
What are some of the topics people will speak about at the event?
We have a broad range of topics being examined alternating from activist strategies, law and animals, film and literature, approaches to changing ideas and attitudes, education and animals, and gender and class as just a few examples. 
The ICAS Oceania Conference will be held July 6 at the University of Canberra. Tickets are now available here and please visit here for further information.
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