We are HAL [HumAnimaLab or Human-Animal-Laboratory], a research group at the University of Ottawa and our focus is the new geological, environmental, political and cultural age that the world has seemingly entered, according to experts. They have named it the anthropocene, in reference to humans (“anthropos” in greek) who are thought to be responsible for powerful climatic and environmental changes.
While planet earth itself has become a fully fledged actor of our modernity (a hyperobject), and an actor for which summits are held, political parties are created, books are written and photographs and decisions are taken, it seems important to us to question this “anthropos” whose plural dimensions (individual, species, nature, culture, genes, memes) have in fact long been problematized by anthropology. If indeed we are living in a period of important geological, chemical and biological transformations, we are also (and perhaps especially) witnessing a series of sociocultural and technical upheavals which are today shaking our collective representations and which could therefore be prompting new relationships to ecology, to life and to death.
It is precisely the mapping of these relationships that we have chosen to focus on and whose realities we would like to consider, in a pluridisciplinary approach as well as in phase with the strategic research objectives of the University of Ottawa.
How does HAL work?
HAL members choose to focus on different subjects that relate to the anthropocene and tackle them from different angles. Original projects are undertaken by contributors with backgrounds in various fields (including anthropology, environmental science, feminist studies, psychology, philosophy, international development, etc.). Research themes are multidisciplinary, utilize the ethnographic method and can be collaborative. Works are posted to the Humanimalab website where they combine with existing published academic research, news stories, videos and even artistic images to offer a multi-faceted and multi-scaled picture of the anthropocene. Reading groups, films projections and guest speaker appearances are also organized on a weekly basis (see Events page) and aim to encourage learning and discussion among event participants (HAL members, members of the public and invited speakers).
Who is HAL?