Organized Panel Session
This panel examines how animals are agents in making meaning in cultural and aesthetic realms. Typically, animals are instruments of use, whether for labor or entertainment and therefore extensions and surrogates of human instrumentality. Sociologists have examined animals as boundary objects that implicate various values and meanings. This panel, however, proposes an interrogation of how animals are object agents. Bruno Latour argues that non-humans can have agency and efficacy that are revealed in their interactions with people. Such interactions include interpretation that mark the role humans and objects have in the creation and consumption of culture. Furthermore, object-oriented ontology distinguishes objects in and of themselves as fully-formed objects before human intervention. Thus, the papers work to move away from human-animal relations that privileges an anthropocentric viewpoint. That is, the power or will to act can be neither reduced to the objects’ material parts nor defined solely in deference to its creator or some other larger context. How can objects create agency without being subjugated to pre-existing social relations or a site of reproduction?
Sarfati examines animal sacrifice in shamanic rituals to forge an interactivity between humans and spirits. Son engages art practice of a zainichi artist in performance rituals to forward a transindividual identity. Diffrient examines how nonhuman creatures were rhetorically brought to virtual life in Korean cinema as creaturely metaphors. Kim discusses how certain animals might become expressive in seventeenth century folding screens depending on needs from the audience who uses these works of art.