Catherine Oliver

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Catherine Oliver
University of Cambridge

I am a social and cultural geographer researching veganism, human-animal relationships, and the politics of friendship. My work sits between the fields of ‘non-human’, ‘more-than-human’, and animal geographies, seeking to blur and understand the boundaries between these geographies and locate a vegan geography. I am particularly interested in historical and contemporary vegan activism; constructing the ‘beyond’ as a site for critical inquiry; and better understanding friendship as an ethico-political force and imperative. My PhD, ‘Animals, archives, and activism: transforming spaces of veganism’, focused on pasts, presents, and futures of vegan activism, seeking to understand how friendship, truth and inheritance define, shape, and move activist communities’ historical explorations of animal welfarism, animal rights and veganism since 1950 and what this means for less violent multispecies futures.

In my research, I combined archival research primarily in the archive of Richard D. Ryder, held at the British Library (undertaken during a PhD placement in the Department for Politics and Public Life); in-depth interviews with vegans and activists across the UK on their beliefs, practices and experiences of veganism; auto/ethnographies with vegans in Birmingham; and a multispecies ethnography with rescued battery hens (and other animals). The development of an ethico-political approach of friendship within and between species has been integral to the theory and praxis of this work, in (un)learning and negotiating difference and distance with animals as co-constitutors of the world. My research is driven by and seeks to understand how to imagine and thus enact less violent futures for animals, humans and the world.



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