UCL Anthropocene


POSTPONED: Animal Scales series: Scale Political, with Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka

19 June 2024, 5:00 pm–7:00 pm

Stray Cat 03 by Sami Ucan

The fifth seminar in the Animal Scales series, with Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka (Department of Philosophy, Queen’s University, Canada)

This event is free.

Event Information

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Mariam Motamedi Fraser

POSTPONED: Please note this will no longer take place on June 19th. A new date is currently tbc.

Online, Zoom

The animal ethics literature tends to focus on animals either as individuals (with rights, or moral standing) or as part of biological populations or species (vulnerable to extinction/extirpation, loss of genetic diversity, resilience, abundance, etc.) But politics takes place at the level of social and cultural groups, not individuals or biological populations, and it concerns how members of groups navigate and shape the terms of collective life together. In this paper, we explore the importance of seeing animals as members of groups or associations (e.g. herds, pods, neighbours, clans, commoners), and how such groups fit into larger visions of interspecies politics and justice. Traditional political theory has long faced the challenge of how to relate different scales of political community (local, national, transnational), each with its own rules of membership, authority and legitimacy. Adding animal groups to the mix ramps up this complexity considerably, but we argue that this complexity is generative. It helps clarify the need to think about political communities as interdependent (not isolated or self-sufficient), grounded (in physical space and/or social connection), and overlapping (with different communities having divided authority/jurisdiction in shared places, not exclusive or unitary power). We explore how political community of this scale and scope could enable justice in more-than-human politics.


Sue Donaldson is a research associate and co-convenor of the Animals in Philosophy, Politics, Law and Ethics research group at Queen’s University, Canada. She is the o-author, with Will Kymlicka, of Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights (OUP 2011).

Will Kymlicka is the Canada Research Chair in Political Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at Queen’s University, Canada, where he has taught since 1998. He is the o-author, with Sue Donaldson, of Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights (OUP 2011).

This seminar is part of the Animal Scales series, co-hosted by UCL Anthropocene and the Centre for Critical Global Change, Goldsmiths.

Seminar series: Animal Scales

From Aristotle's scala naturae, to the vast scales of animal agriculture, to moral scales, determined by cognitive scales: animal lives have and continue to be shaped by different kinds of scales and their positions on them. Scales enact, authorise, and justify possible relations with animals, including deathly scales of comparison. But scales are neither fixed nor unchanging, and in the context of increasingly complex, multi-dimensional and multi-temporal analyses of environmental catastrophe, numerous, often novel, scales are proliferating. How do animal scales come into existence? Are animals themselves 'scale-makers' and, if so, can they disrupt the pre-scaled objects of knowledge that support the division of academic labour? If animals operate at scale (collective migration, collective thinking), how do they also resist it? This seminar series asks after the disciplinary, theoretical, methodological, empirical, political, ethical, and legal implications of thinking animals in and through scale.

Full series dates:

Animal Scales poster with dates


Maan Barua; Department of Geography, Cambridge
5.00-7.00 pm, 20 February
Location: UCL, IAS Forum, South Wing, Wilkins Building.
Register here


Dr. iur. Charlotte Blattner, LL.M. (Harvard); Institute of Public Law, University of Berne
5.00-7.00 pm, 21 March
Location: UCL, Room BO5, Darwin Building.
Register here


Screening of the documentary film Cow (2021, UK, MUBI & US IFC films), and discussion with Director, Andrea Arnold. Respondent and chair: Anat Pick, School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, Queen Mary, London.
3.30-7.00 pm, 23 April
Location: Goldsmiths, Small Cinema, Richard Hoggart Building
Register here


Éric Baratay; Department of History, Université Jean-Moulin, Lyon.
5.00-7.00pm, 24 May
Location TBA
Register here


Will Kymlicka and Sue Donaldson; Department of Philosophy, Queen’s University, Canada
5.00-7.00pm, 19 June
On-line (Zoom)
Register here


Dinesh Wadiwel; School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney
10.00-12.00a.m., 8 July
On-line (Zoom)
Register here

For more information, please contact Mariam Motamedi Fraser (m.motamedi-fraser@gold.ac.uk)

Image: "Stray Cat 03" by Sami Ucan (@sami_ucan)