News and Events - New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies - University of Canterbury - New Zealand



Forging Links with Swedish Critical Animal Studies

From March until June 2014, Annie Potts was an invited Research Fellow at the Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies, Lund University, Sweden, where she was part of the “Exploring the Animal Turn” project, led by Tobias Linne, Amelie Bjorck, Helena Pedersen and Ann-Sofie Lonngren.

Annie Potts and Philip Armstrong were both keynote presenters at the Pufendorf Institute’s conference of the same name in May 2014.

In November 2014 Annie and Philip are invited guests of Uppsala University’s HumAnimal group, which is part of the Institute for Gender Research. There they will be continuing their work with Ann-Sofie Lonngren, and also working with Tora Holmberg, Jacob Bull and Anna Samuelsson.

NZCHAS is also pleased to announce that Dr Tobias Linne, expert on Media Studies and Critical Animal Studies at Lund University will be our centre’s invited Research Fellow from March until June 2015. While at Canterbury University, Tobias will be involved in teaching ENGL411/CULT418 Writing Nature, Representing Animals, which runs during the first semester of 2015; and also continuing the research project started with Annie and Philip in Sweden.


Chicken Hatched

Chicken by Annie PottsA major new study of the cultural history and significance of Gallus gallus domesticus, the domestic chicken, has just been published by NZCHAS Co-director Associate Professor Annie Potts.

The book traces the evolutionary and natural history of chickens and describes the ways in which they experience their world. It explores the place of chickens in human history and in many different cultures, and concludes with a detailed analysis of the place of chickens in the world today.

'In this brilliant book, Potts challenges us to see chickens as creatures who think and feel in complex ways all of their own... This series notably mixes historical and cross-cultural research with gorgeous illustrations; Chicken is no exception.' – TLS

Read more.

Buy online from

Listen to interview on Radio New Zealand

‘Animal Earthquake Stories’

Animal Earthquake StoriesNZCHAS Co-Director Annie Potts is collecting people’s written stories and about pet animals and the Christchurch earthquakes. She is interested in hearing stories about pet loss or death, or the relinquishment of pets; as well as stories about animal rescue, the rehoming of displaced pets, and happy reunions. Annie is keen to hear about how different species reacted to and were affected by the quakes, including cats, dogs, mice, rats, horses, birds, insects even! If you would like to tell your animal’s story, then please contact

Annie will then send you more information about the study, including what your involvement will entail and how your story will fit into the project.

Annie Potts with Pinky McFarlane, the noseless cat she rehomed following the 22 February earthquake. Also pictured is Annie’s friend, Sharon McFarlane, who lived with Pinky for 18 years before their Beckenham house was red-stickered.

ZCHAS Symposium: 'Cultural Animals'

Addressing animal abuse and the effectiveness of animal assisted therapy were just two of the research projects showcased at a human-animal studies symposium held at the University of Canterbury on September 21, 2011. The symposium, called Cultural Animals, was hosted by the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies (NZCHAS), ... [read more]

Marti KheelIn memoriam: Marti Kheel

Researchers and students around the world will be deeply saddened to hear of the death of leading ecofeminist and human-animal studies scholar and advocate (and NZCHAS associate) Marti Kheel ... [read more]

NZCHAS Co-Director Interviewed by Kim Hill

An interview with Associate Professor Annie Potts, the co-director of NZCHAS, featured on Kim Hill's Saturday Morning Programme on National Radio on November 5. Associate Professor Potts spoke about chickens in general, and more specifically about her forthcoming book, Chicken (Reaktion: 2011). [download the podcast here].

Australian Animal Studies Group (AASG) Website Launched

NZCHAS congratulates the Australian Animal Studies Group (formerly the Animals and Society Study Group [Aust]) on the launch of their new website. The website can be seen at The media release on the launch of the website can be found here.

The Politics of Carol J. Adams

The latest issue of Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture features an interview by Annie Potts with NZCHAS International Associate Carol J. Adams, renowned author of The Sexual Politics of Meat (and numerous other books on human-animal relations). In the interview Adams discusses how she became passionate about human-animal politics, what ‘feminist vegetarian critical theory’ entails, and what the term ‘anthropornography’ means in relation to her work. Adams also elaborates on the contemporary proliferation of popular cultural images depicting what she terms the ‘animalization of women’ and the ‘feminization and sexualization of animals’; and comments on the recent use in so-called ‘art’ of live animals, as well as carcasses and dismembered animals. The full interview can be viewed on-line via

(Annie Potts also recently interviewed Donna Haraway, author of When Species Meet. This paper, “Kiwi Chicken Advocate Talks with Californian Dog Companion” appears in the latest issue of Feminism & Psychology which focuses on “Psychology, Feminism and Nonhuman Others).

Publication of Special Issue on Psychology, Feminism and Animals

NZCHAS Co-Director Annie Potts has edited the latest issue of the international refereed journal Feminism & Psychology, which is dedicated to exploring the intersections between human-animal studies, feminist theory, gender and psychology. The issue features contributions by NZCHAS Associates Carol J. Adams, Donna Haraway, Rebecca Bishop, pattrice jones, Gay Bradshaw, Lynda Birke, Richard Twine and doctoral students Jovian Parry and Ben Merriman. See the issue's Table of Contents.

Servants of GaneshFilm Screening

NZCHAS Member Dr Piers Locke presented his film Servants of Ganesh on Friday August 20, 10am, Room 252, Level 2, Link Block, Psychology-Sociology Building.

Teaching the AnimalPublication of Book on approaches to teaching Human-Animal Studies

Teaching the Animal, edited by NZCHAS Associate Dr Margo DeMello has just been published by Lantern books.

This is the first book on the pedagogy of Human-Animal Studies, and Dr DeMello has brought together essays by academics in fields as diverse as History, Literary Studies, Law, Sociology, Ecology and Veterinary Science.

Each of the fifteen chapters introduces the main philosophical and practical issues entailed by teaching HAS in the context of a particular discipline or field, and includes accounts of the experiences of teachers and students, along with sample curricula and an extensive filmography and bibliography. The first chapter, by NZCHAS members Annie Potts and Philip Armstrong, addresses the implications of teaching about animals in Cultural Studies Courses.

Publication of Research on "VEGANSEXUALITY"

Vegansexual t-shirtIn 2007 the word "vegansexuality" entered the global lexicon, when NZCHAS Co-Director Annie Potts used it in a newspaper interview to describe the preference for vegetarian or vegan sexual partners, which had been expressed by some participants in a recently-completed study on ethical consumption in New Zealand.

The story quickly went viral, producing headlines around the world, and a flurry of pro- and anti- blogs, websites, t-shirts and youtube clips. Now Associate Professor Potts, in collaboration with NZCHAS graduate Jovian Parry, has published a discussion of the powerful, revealing and sometimes worrying reactions that emerged in response to the notion of vegansexuality. Potts and Parry's article is entitled "Vegan Sexuality: Challenging Heteronormative Masculinity through Meat-free Sex", and it appears in Feminism & Psychology, 20(1), pages 53-72.

NZCHAS Associate examines ethics of Broiler Chicken Farming in New Zealand

Broiler chickensDr Michael Morris from Marine and Environmental Management at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic has just published an article called “The Ethics and Politics of Animal Welfare in New Zealand: Broiler Chicken Production as a Case Study’ in the prestigious Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Ethics (Volume 22, 2009, pp. 15-30).

In this article, Morris argues that, while there are many causes of poor welfare in broiler chickens (chickens bred for meat), the most significant factor is genotype. In other words, broiler chickens have been selectively bred to grow faster and bigger (to produce meat quicker) at the expense of the birds’ health and well-being. Rapid growth in broiler chickens causes (amongst other things) the birds’ muscles to outgrow their skeletons resulting in lameness, leg fractures and chronic pain. Morris investigates the attitudes of government to broiler chicken welfare issues, ultimately arguing that improvements to the lives of chickens grown for meat in this country might only be possible under an independent animal welfare advisory service.

For more details contact:

Archived News and Events

Publication of book on Animal Law in NZ and Australia

Animal Law in AustralasiaAnimal Law in Australasia, co-edited by NZCHAS associate Peter Sankoff, has just been published by Federation press.

The original laws protecting animals from human mistreatment arose from community concern in the 19th century, and today community expectations are even higher. Most Australians and New Zealanders assume that their animal welfare laws still provide sufficient protection for animals, that cruelty is the exception and that, when exposed, the perpetrators are prosecuted. They are wrong on all counts.

This book is a scholarly examination of the legal relationship between humans and animals in Australia and New Zealand. It asks whether existing laws really do protect animals, and, where the law comes up short, how it could be improved. The questions explored go beyond animal welfare and challenge the reader to think about the nature of legal interests, and practical and ethical contexts for a range of laws.

Australian, New Zealand and international academics and practitioners cover topics ranging from core concepts and theoretical questions around “animal welfare” and law, to specific matters of concern: animal cruelty sentencing, live animal export, recreational hunting, and commercial uses of animals in farming and research.

Animal Law in Australasia can be purchased online from

NZCHAS course wins 2008 International Animals and Society Course Award From Bambi to Kong

Dr Annie Potts, Co-Director of NZCHAS, has won the 2008 award for best established course in the field of animals and society. Dr Potts's course, "From Bambi to Kong: The Animal in American Popular Culture", was chosen from a field of international applicants by the judging panel from the Humane Society of the United States. The awards recognize excellence in courses concerning the human-animal bond, human obligations toward animals, the status of animals, and related topics. Past recipients have included scholars working in academic fields including animal science, animal-assisted therapy, anthropology, archeology, art, biology, communications, culture studies, education, environmental studies, ethology, history, law, literature, medicine, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, sociology and veterinary medicine.

Judges use criteria such as depth and rigor within the topic, impact on the field of human-animal studies, and originality of approach. Competitive entries for the awards would be courses that bring the study of animals and society into new arenas; approach the field from a novel perspective, or make use of novel teaching methods; provide exposure to students who would not otherwise address academic issues relating to animals and society; or are tailored to participants whose learning experience will have a direct impact upon animals and/or animal protection.

Jovian ParryNZ Centre for Human-Animal Studies Summer Scholarship

NZCHAS was fortunate this year to be awarded a Summer Scholarship from the University of Canterbury. Several students applied for the opportunity to spend the university break over summer working on a project in the field of HAS. The successful applicant was Jovian Parry, a Cultural Studies Honours student specializing in Human-Animal Studies. Jovian has taken all the papers offered in the HAS stream in the College of Arts and is has most recently completed extended research on slaughter narratives in popular culture. The project he will be working on during the tenure of his Summer Scholarship is titled: “Animal abuse as an indicator of domestic violence: Studying ‘the link’ in the context of New Zealand”. Specifically Jovian will be comparing local and international findings on ‘the link’, and identifying knowledge gaps in the context of New Zealand.

Claire Hero afterpastures

Award for Poetry Chapbook

Congratulations to NZCHAS member Claire Hero, whose poetry chapbook, afterpastures, won the 2007 Caketrain Chapbook Competition. The poems in afterpastures explore human-animal relationships and the effect of livestock production on natural landscapes.  The chapbook will be released in May 2008, and can be ordered from

Publication of Book on Animals in Modern Fiction

cover of What Animals Mean in the Fiction of ModernityJanuary 2008 saw the publication by Routledge of What Animals Mean in the Fiction of Modernity, by NZCHAS Co-Director Philip Armstrong.

What Animals Mean begins by examining the function of animals and animal representations in four classic novels: Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Frankenstein and Moby Dick. The later chapters then explore how these stories have been re-worked, in ways that reflect shifting social and environmental forces, by later novelists including H G Wells, D H Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, Franz Kafka, Brigid Brophy, Bernard Malamud, Will Self, Margaret Atwood, Yann Martel and J M Coetzee.

Read the transcript of an interview with Philip Armstrong about this book on Australia's ABC National Radio.

Order What Animals Mean by Philip Armstrong

NZCHAS on Radio NZ National (December 2007)

NZCHAS Co-Directors Annie Potts and Philip Armstrong featured on Radio New Zealand National's "Ideas" programme on 9 December 2007, a feature about Human-Animal Relations. The programme was described as follows:

" Inarguably, New Zealand’s identity and economy owes much to our agricultural background. As the saying goes, this country’s prosperity was built “off the sheep’s back”. And of late, New Zealand has acquired a reputation as a country that works hard to save its endangered animal species, and supports moves to protect similarly endangered animals overseas. But as our environmental awareness has changed over time, is it correct to assume that our treatment of our less exotic animals has changed as well? Agriculture, which continues to be hugely important in our economy and culture, also accounts for the majority of all animal testing in New Zealand. And while we are enthusiastic pet-owners, our record of cruelty towards them is the equal of anywhere in the Western World.

This contradiction in our attitudes has been charted in a recent study conducted by the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies at Canterbury University. The study records the emergence of a group of people who identify themselves as cruelty-free consumers. They reject the picture of intensive farming, meat-eating and wearing animal products, and what they consider to be the false image of New Zealand as a “clean, green” paradise, and significantly, they are spending their money elsewhere.

Is this growing sense of disquiet highlighting a division in this country between traditional values and an emerging culture of animal ethicists? Could our treatment of animals have wider implications for the nature of our society? Why have some of us stopped riding on the sheep’s back?" 

To download a podcast of this programme, go to and scroll down to "9 December 2007"

Vegan Sexuality in the news (AUGUST 2007)

NZCHAS researchers made headlines recently for noting that a number of vegetarians and vegans participating in a study on cruelty-free consumption in New Zealand preferred to be in intimate relationships with other vegetarians and vegans.

The term ‘vegansexuality' was coined by Dr Annie Potts after identifying a very small number of informants who refused on ethical grounds to have intimate relations with non-vegetarians: “Vegans are committed to cruelty-free lifestyles, and for some this extends into the realm of relationships and sexuality. Vegansexuality is therefore a disposition (or inclination, or preference) towards those who practice a cruelty-free lifestyle. It is an embodied ethical form of sexuality”.

The connection between food and sex is not a new phenomenon. Dr Potts suggests a spectrum exists in relation to cruelty-free consumption and sexual relationships: “At one end of the spectrum, vegansexuality entails an increased likelihood of sexual attraction towards those who do not consume animals or animal products. At the other end, it manifests as a strong sexual aversion to the bodies of those who consume animals and animal products; for these people, avoidance of sexual intimacy with omnivorous bodies is manifesting at a much more visceral level.”

For more information on the findings of this study, contact Annie Potts.


Release of report on Ethical Consumption in NZ MAY 2007)

The NZCHAS is pleased to release a report on a nationwide survey on cruelty-free consumption. This study, conducted between August and December last year, was undertaken as part of a larger project on human-animal interactions in New Zealand, funded by a Royal Society of NZ Marsden grant. Volunteers completed 14-page surveys asking for their opinions on a range of topics including meat-eating, horse-racing, battery farming, hunting and fishing, and Wild Foods Festivals. Over 150 people participated from throughout New Zealand. The report provides detailed accounts of the experiences and perspectives of vegetarians, vegans and other ethical consumers living in New Zealand. (Word, 690KB) (PDF, 585KB)

For information, contact

Knowing Animals CoverPublication of knowing Animals (March 2007)

The launch of NZCHAS also coincides with the publication of a collection of essays in Human-Animal Studies called Knowing Animals edited by NZCHAS Co-Director, Philip Armstrong, and Laurence Simmons from the University of Auckland. The volume includes essays on animals in philosophy, literature, painting, environmental discourse, science, the circus, TV, cinema and popular culture. Contributors include Brian Boyd, Ian Wedde, Allan Smith, Helen Tiffin, Barbara Creed, Rick de Vos, Catharina Landstrom, Alphonso Lingis, as well as three NZCHAS members - Philip Armstrong, Annie Potts , and Tanja Schwalm

For information contact: