Kararehe: Animals in Art, Literature and Everyday Culture in Aotearoa New Zealand

A 3-year interdisciplinary, bicultural project supported by a Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden grant (2005-2007)

Principal Investigators

Annie Potts and Philip Armstrong (Culture, Literature & Society, University of Canterbury)

Associate Investigator

Deidre Brown (Architecture, University of Auckland)

In the arts, in popular culture, and in everyday situations and environments, the lives of humans are continually and intimately bound up with those of nonhuman animals, both real and imaginary. As with many habitual aspects of life, however, the meanings derived from this ubiquitous network of interactions most often remain invisible. Yet recently, across the globe, scholars and critics from a range of fields have begun to turn their attention to what has been called "the animal question", by examining the ways in which interactions between humans and animals reflect and shape important social and cultural issues: these include how we understand our own identities and those of others; how we regard, inhabit and make use of the natural world; and how we think about what to buy, eat, wear, watch and read.

This project, entitled "Kararehe: The Animal in Culture in Aotearoa New Zealand", will investigate these questions in a local context, particularly with regard to the exchanges between Māori and Pākehā understandings of animals and human-animal relations as these are expressed in the visual arts, in literature and in popular media and everyday life.

Planned outcomes from this project include a co-authored book, inaugural NZ symposium on Human-Animal Studies, and art exhibition.

“Cruelty-Free Consumption in New Zealand: A National Report on the Perspectives and Experiences of Vegetarians and Other Ethical Consumers”: Findings from this survey, conducted between August and December 2006, are now available. (Word, 690KB) (PDF, 585KB)