Animal work


1st Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Animal Work

8th- 9th  April 2016


AgroParisTech, 16 rue Claude Bernard, 75005 Paris

Amphi Coléou


Animals are working  too: such is the iconoclastic proposal that will be at the heart of the oral presentations and discussions of the first interdisciplinary colloquium on animal work, which will take place on 8th and 9th April 2016 in Paris. Indeed, millions of domestic animal participate in human activities that fall within the scope of human labour. And without their participation, or even without their collaboration, such work could not be achieved. Yet animal work often remains an invisible aspect of human societies, and is rarely studied by scholars.

The ANR's program COW, a research project in the humanities and social sciences (2012-2015), was intended to lay the groundwork for conceptualizing the working animal. Research has been done on the agency of several animal species (dogs, horses, elephants, donkeys, among others) in diverse situations of work including assistance to disabled persons, livestock herding, stage performances, and police interventions in public spaces, to shed light on how animals are mobilizing their own subjectivity to perform multiple tasks entrusted to them by humans on a daily basis. The results show that animals are not only objects of labour, they are, crucially, active agents in labour processes. Beyond the redefinition of the ontological status of animals in humanities and social sciences, this first interdisciplinary colloquium on  animal work will seek to clarify the social, moral, ecological and political consequences of recognizing animals’ work.

The colloquium is intended to stimulate critical debate between researchers from a broad range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, professionals working with animals and any interested members of the public. Key questions driving the ANR COW program and the colloquium include: What do animals do at work? How? Why? What are the relationships between animal and human labour?


These meetings, organized by the Research  Group “Animal's Lab” (INRA, UMR Innovation Montpellier) from the ANR COW program,  will be chaired by:

Christophe Dejours (psychiatrist, psychanalyst/University Paris Descartes)

Along with:

         Eve Chiapello (Sociologist/EHESS),

         Frédéric Keck (Anthropologist/CNRS – Musée du Quai Branly),

         Lise Gaignard (Psychanalyst),

         Jean-Marie Klinkenberg (Linguist / University of Liège),

         Pierre Parlebas (Sociologist/University Paris Descartes).


The 1st interdisciplinary colloquium on animal work will take place on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th April, 2016 in Paris (AgroParisTech). Admission is free upon registration. (number of limited places, remember to quickly register).



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