Assistance dogs are purpose-bred canines performing specific tasks for people with disabilities. They go through months of extensive training starting in puppyhood, preparing them for the particular tasks they are needed for and the interspecies communication they require. Even though dogs provide various forms of care and support to people with disabilities and this capacity is an essential part of dog breeding, hardly any work has been done on the intersections of critical animal studies and disability studies. Indeed, it might seem hard to reconcile the emphasis on reclaiming humanity prevalent in disability studies and the critique of human exceptionalism in critical animal studies.
The workshop will use the focus on assistance dogs as co-producers of relationships and companionship with people with disabilities to contribute to political debates about animal welfare, disability justice, while raising new questions about feminist and disability critiques of care, vulnerability, relational autonomy, and independence.
Birkan Taş is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Kassel, leading the research project ‘Disability and Interdependence: Assistance Dogs’.
Image Credit © Claudia Peppel
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