2021 – Publications Update

As we move into 2021 we thought we’d provide a brief 2020 ‘wrap-up’ of what we published last year. Below are the abstracts of our most recent publications, with links to full texts where possible. You can also check out Nik’s researchgate account for free-access downloads of many pieces.

Taylor N., Fraser H. (2020) Doing Feminist, Multispecies Research About Love and Abuse Within the Neoliberalised Academy in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia. In: Mulligan D.L., Danaher P.A. (eds) Researchers at Risk. Palgrave Studies in Education Research Methods. Palgrave Macmillan.

This chapter focuses on the risks associated with doing feminist, multispecies research within the confines of the neoliberal academy, particularly qualitative research about love and abuse. We highlight both the risks to researchers and opportunities to create alliances that pursue transformative social change. Our central argument is that the neoliberal university is implicated in the reproduction of colonialism, speciesism, sexism, heterosexism and so on. Unless care, solidarity and empathic connection can be packaged into saleable goods, they are liable to be dismissed as irrelevant. In this context, critically inclined researchers face several impediments and layers of risk. We consider these risks, and others, from our position as working class, vegan feminists who focus on love for and abuse of other species.

Fraser, H., & Taylor, N. (2020). Animals as Domestic Violence Victims: A Challenge to Humanist Social Work, in, Bozalek, V., & Pease, B. (eds) Post-Anthropocentric Social Work: Critical Posthumanist and New Materialist Perspectives. Routledge

Domestic violence (DV) is a major social problem in Australia and internationally, involving ongoing patterns of manipulation, control and domination that generates fear and confusion in victims (Coorey & Coorey-Ewings, 2018), who can wonder why their loved ones are treating them in this way (Fraser, 2008). DV may include physical violence, but other forms of violence can be just as devastating, such as emotional, sexual, identity and financial abuse (Taylor, Fraser, & Riggs, 2019). The 2018 figures for Australia estimate that 1.6 million women have been DV victims (AIHW, 2019). Some victims do not survive; on average, one woman a week is killed in Australia by her male ex/partner (AIHW, 2019). But there are other victims, too: children and young people (Fraser, 1999), people who are sexually or gender diverse (Taylor et al., 2019), a smaller group of heterosexual men (AIHW, 2019), and a large but as yet understudied group of animals/‘pets’(Coorey & Coorey-Ewings, 2018; Taylor & Fraser, 2019). The two central arguments of this chapter are:(1) that animals exposed to DV need to be recognised as victims in their own right; and (2) that a social work that draws from (philosophical) posthumanism and a feminist ethic of care provides a more expansive framework of ethics and social justice than (mainstream, historical) humanist social work. As signalled in Figure 13.1, we deliberately foreground animals by including depictions of ‘real life’(animal) DV victims/survivors, as we underline the need to centre animals in our thoughts, feelings and practices.

Taylor, N., Fraser, H., Riggs, D.W. (2020). Companion-animal-inclusive domestic violence practice: Implications for service delivery and social work. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 32(4). Open access, available HERE.

INTRODUCTION: Based on an understanding of links between human- and animal-directed domestic violence, this article: 1) argues for companion-animal inclusive domestic violence service delivery; and 2) reflects on the challenges this offers to social work and the human services.

APPROACH: We start by considering the importance of companion animals in many people’s lives and then offer an overview of material on “the link” between human- and animal-directed violence, specifically as it pertains to domestic violence.

CONCLUSIONS: Implications for service design and provision are discussed. We conclude with brief comments about the importance of centring animals in future considerations of human– animal violence links and outline how this offers an opportunity to challenge and re-think the humanist foundations on which traditional social work is built.

Fraser, H., & Taylor, N. (2020). Narrative feminist research interviewing with ‘inconvenient groups’ about sensitive topics: affect, iteration and assemblages. Qualitative Research, online first.

This article has been written for qualitative researchers inclined towards in-person, narrative interviewing with members of groups designated ‘inconvenient’ or ‘hard to reach’, about sensitive or controversial topics. The aim is to critically reflect on narrative research interviewing practices we have undertaken in Australia with (1) women who had recently survived domestic violence and had relocated with ‘their animal companions’; and (2) dairy farmers discussing challenges to their wellbeing and that of ‘their livestock’. The themes of affect, iteration and assemblages guide our discussion. Affect speaks to emotions; iteration to researchers raising prior interview content with subsequent participants; and assemblages to the process of piecing together an analysis that later appears seamless. With some caveats, we argue that (in-person) narrative interviewing has the potential to generate rapport with diverse participants that enables the production of ‘good data’, that is, data that are rich in detail but also politicised.

Rosenberg, S., Riggs, D.W., Taylor, N., & Fraser, H. (2020). ‘Being together really helped’: Australian transgender and non-binary people and their animal companions living through violence and marginalisation. Journal of Sociology 56(4), 571-590.

This article explores the intersections of human and animal lives in the context of violence and marginalisation. It draws on two studies, the first involving a sub-sample of 23 open-ended survey responses completed by transgender and non-binary (TNB) people taken from a larger study exploring the intersections of animal- and human-directed violence, and the second involving eight interviews with TNB people focused on the meaning of animal companionship. Together, the findings suggest that animal companionship can be a protective factor for TNB people experiencing marginalisation and/or distress, whether in the context of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) or in the context of other forms of intra- or inter-personal points or adversity. The findings suggest that animal companions can provide TNB people with comfort and non-judgemental emotional interactions in the face of DVA and other life stressors. However, the risk of violence directed towards animals must also be considered. The article concludes with discussion of the implications for DVA service provision and research.

Fraser, Heather, Taylor, Nik, & Riggs, Damien W (2020) Victims/Survivors of family and domestic violence in diverse, multispecies households. QUT Centre for Justice Briefing PaperAugust(7), August 2020. PDF available HERE.

Domestic and family violence (DFV), including but not limited to intimate partner violence (IPV), is a major and devastating problem in Australia (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019). This is especially true for cisgender women (Fraser, 2008), people who are gender and/or sexuality diverse (Riggs, Taylor, Fraser, et al., 2018), and children (Fraser, 1999). Less recognised is that DFV is also a major problem for many animals (Taylor & Fraser, 2019). Humans have a long history of keeping animal companions (or ‘pets’) in their homes, and today 61% of Australian households are multispecies (RSPCA, 2020). Recent research has shown just how much diverse groups of humans value the relationships they have with animal companions—particularly among those who are more vulnerable to oppression, such as cisgender heterosexual women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer [LGBTQ] people (see Fraser & Taylor, 2017, 2019). Such relationships put animal companions at significant risk of violence within the home, as they may be targets of violence and are often used as ‘coercive devices’ (i.e., used by an abuser to make the victim/survivor behave in a certain way) within violent intimate partner and family dynamics. This begs consideration of a multispecies, intersectional analysis that fosters an inclusive understanding of the importance of animals in multispecies households, including their own experiences of violence.

Fraser, Heather & Taylor, Nik (2020) Critical (animal) social work: Insights from ecofeminist and critical animal studies in the context of neoliberalism. In Morley, Christine, Ablett, Phillip, Noble, Carolyn, & Cowden, Stephen (Eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Critical Pedagogies for Social Work. Routledge, London, pp. 296-309.

Ecofeminism and critical animal studies have much to offer social workers interested in transformative social change inclusive of non-human animals, built and natural environments. Inequality on the basis of species and gender—particularly as they intersect with neoliberal rhetoric—are major points of our discussion. The chapter is organised into five overlapping sections: ecofeminism; critical animal studies; ecological/green social work; critical (animal) social work in the context of neoliberalism; and transformative education and the joy of animal connections. We draw ideas most from Val Plumwood and Vandana Shiva (representing ecofeminism), Carol J. Adams (vegan ecofeminism), Steve Best (critical animal studies), Fred Besthorn (ecological social work) and Lena Dominelli (green social work). Our primary focus is on how the central ideas from ecofeminism and critical animal studies can inform non-anthropocentric social work, that is, social work that does not assume human superiority or governance over other animals, nature and the environment.

Heather Fraser, Clare Bartholomaeus, Damien W Riggs, Nik Taylor, Shoshana Rosenberg (2020). Service provider recognition of the significance of animal companionship among trans and cisgender women of diverse sexualities. Culture, Health & Sexuality 22(1), 16-30.

Extensive literature reveals the many health benefits animal companions can bring to the humans who live with them. However, much of this work has taken place with heterosexual and cisgender populations. To address this gap, we conducted qualitative interviews with 19 trans and cisgender women of diverse sexualities in Australia who reported having significant relationships with animal companions. In this article, we explore the benefits of healthcare providers (e.g. doctors, counsellors) recognising the potential significance of interspecies companionship for the health of trans and cisgender women of diverse sexualities. Findings relating to interactions with animal service providers are used to further illustrate themes of recognition and non-recognition as they relate to the women’s genders, sexualities, and relationships with animal companions. In the discussion we consider some of the contextual challenges for such recognition to occur in service provision. Suggestions are then offered in relation to how providers might think about service provision which is both inclusive of all women and takes into account close connections with animal companions.

Artwork: Heather Fraser

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