On this episode of Knowing Animals, host, Dr Josh Milburn, speaks to Dr Catherine Oliver of the University of Cambridge's Department of Geography about her book Veganism, Archives, and Animals, published by Routledge on 13 August 2021.
Dr Catherine Oliver discusses her journey to her current area of study, from working in the archives of the British Library to adopting chickens and to writing her book. She explains how critical vegan geography has developed as an intersection between politics, geography, animal studies and critical theory. Her work seeks to re-centre animals in our discussions of veganism.
Please note that this podcast is not created by The Vegan Society.
Reflections from Dr Josh Milburn
Catherine's Veganism, Archives, and Animals demonstrates that we need to study vegans and veganism from a wide range of academic disciplines. I initially picked up the book, in part, because I knew that Catherine was studying the ‘Oxford Vegetarians’. These were an influential, albeit underappreciated, group of philosophers. The book is about far more than the Oxford Vegetarians and far more than philosophy. What has stuck with me most about my conversation with Catherine is the diversity of work that she, as a geographer, engages in. For example, the book contains historical, archival work; social-scientific, interview-based work, and multispecies ethnographic work with chickens.
Geographers, in short, do a lot – and there are lots of areas of geography we should be paying attention to. As Catherine explains, ‘animal geographies’, exploring the place of animals in our environments, are well-established. ‘Critical animal geographies’, meanwhile, are emerging to challenge the way geographers usually talk about animals. But ‘vegan geographies’ are newer still. What vegan geography is (and could be) remains up for grabs. I look forward to seeing how this subdiscipline develops, and no doubt Catherine’s book will play an important part in that development.