S3E1: Right to the City with Marie Carmen Shingne (Show Notes)
It's been a year since we launched Season 3 of The Animal Turn Podcast which was focused on Animals and The Urban.
This entry includes show notes from the first episode of the season. In this episode Claudia speaks to Marie Carmen Shingne about the concept ‘Right to the City’ and how it could be applied to animals. They open up this season, focusing on animals and the urban, by asking whether animals have any claims to the city.
Marie Carmen Shingne is a doctoral candidate in the Sociology Department at Michigan State University with specializations in animal studies and global urban studies. Her dissertation research is focused on the experiences of the slum residents and street dogs in the Indian city of Pune and what these experiences tell us about power in and access to urban spaces and resources. Using multispecies ethnographic methods, her research asks: how is the urban space currently shared and negotiated by different urban human and nonhuman residents, in what ways are the human and nonhuman residents impacted by these negotiations, and what does an inclusive and equitable city look like according to various stakeholders? Marie Carmen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
00:30 - Claudia gives an intro to the season and episode
This season is focused on Animals and The Urban
Bedrock of understanding animals and the law – Keep in our mind that animals are viewed as property and what this means for the types of relations they can form (Listen to Season 1); also animals and experience – there are a variety of relations for animals to experience (Listen to Season 2).
In this first episode we ask – who has a right to the city and we talk about it with Marie Carmen Shingne
3:40 – Welcoming Marie and she tells us a bit about herself
Marie – “I have that typical I always wanted to work with animals’ stories”
Did a master’s in animals and Public Policy and she heard a presentation about street dogs in Eastern Europe which was very different to how people interact with stray dogs in the US. People outside of the US seemed to be content with more free-roaming dogs – this opened up a new understanding for Marie and opened up “a world of other animals that we don’t even necessarily think abut as being in the urban setting”
“In the western world, as you grow up think of animals as in your home, on a farm or in the wilderness – you don’t think of them as being residents in a city” - Marie
Did more hands-on work but kept being interested in how animals are categorized and defined – which launched her PhD
07:00 – We think of the urban as a human space
“For me the Urban space is interesting because of our idea that urban equals human” – Marie
“The city is kind of used to hold up that divide…and the minute you spend a minute thinking about it you realize that the city is…more-than-human” – Claudia
“Why should we care?” that there are animals in the city? – Claudia
“The urban space is growing continuously…we are starting to see this major shift into a very urbanised world and the estimate from that UN report is that we would have basically shifted…we will have almost 70% in urban spaces…which means our population is growing and our urban population is growing….As we are building urban space…we are taking over territory that ‘belonged’ to other animals” – Marie
“We can’t just take over everything and call it ours without thinking about the other beings we share this world with” – Marie
12:58 – Cities use resources
How does consumption in cities today change not only urban landscapes but landscapes outside of them – landscapes tasked with servicing the urban
“In India they are focused on bringing technology into the city to improve it…It continues this trend of trying to build cities apart from nature” – Marie
Urbanization is a process – maybe need to think through how this is attached to other animals lives.
15:25 – The Urban and Nature
“Is the urban not also nature?” – Claudia
“We think of urban and nature. It’s this divide --.” We keep trying to categorize everything - Marie
Urban Ecologists might think or urbanization as a distinct ecology
We tend to think in stark boundaries
17: 40 – What is Rights to the City?
This could be a legal or a social question – “How does the social influence how we legalize our systems?”
The Right to the City is “for anybody who is residing in and experiencing the city” – to be able to “access the resources you need to thrive”
Physical space and being equipped with the ability to thrive
Your claim to the city – “you should have just as much of an ability to access what the city has to offer as anybody else?” – Marie
From the paper – whose right to the city? What right? Which city
24:30 – Whose right?
“How do you think of a raccoon as having access to rights and those resources?” … “How do you define a city and who do you define as a resident?” – Marie
“Who gets to determine the rights?” – Claudia
Kymlicka and Donaldson’s Zoopolis – Citizenship, Sovereign, Denizenship (Listen to Will Kymlicka talk about animal rights).
Multispecies ethnography needs to centre the animals we are interested in – Marcus Baynes Rock, Among the Bone Eaters is a good example of a researcher trying to understand animals’ view of their own world (Listen to Marcus Baynes-Rock talk about Multispecies Commons).
Difficult to manage different expectations and claims to the urban space? How are the needs of raccoons and hyenas different? There are tensions between animals and it is complicated.
“Humans have to learn how to somehow give up a little bit of control” – Marie
31:48 – Dogs in the City
How do dog parks fit into the urban space? There are different types of urban dogs? Pet versus stray dogs, for example
Challenge the idea of talking about this at the species level, there are different cultural dimensions (Listen to Carl Safina talk about animal culture).
What do dogs want to do?
What would happen if there were different generations teaching each other?
35:35 – Which City? And categorizations
Every city should be thinking about these things. There might be systematic ideas but you need to think about individual cities.
New Cities will need to think about these multispecies questions in a different way
“To what extent should cities be rewilded?”
How do developing and developed cities react differently to creating multispecies rights
“How do we start to get people to view the city as more than human and the other animals has being worthwhile and having a claim to the space?” – Claudia
Academics and welfare organisations need to disrupt some of the categories they use
Wildlife versus liminal animals – different interactions and experiences
Change requires thought and discomfort
Hard work of thinking – how can we think about this in a more complicated way?
Blurring of the edges and softening of the divides between categories.
The significance of complicated and ambivalent feelings.
49:00 – The work of activists
They are significant in disturbing the space and making it claimable.
Significance of focusing on legal cases for animal rights.
Animal Justice released an expose
Anonymous for the Voiceless also disrupt the urban space and in some ways claim space on behalf of animals. They also make the food systems apparent in the city – Claudia
52:00 – Agriculture in the city
People don’t think about how agriculture has been pushed from cities.
Transportation between cities and farms – shifts in industrialisation
“We forget how linked agriculture and city growth is” – Marie
54:00 – Discussion about the quote
Dogs have territorial boundaries
“Our responsibility to think about how we think about the environment but also how other animals think about their environments” – Marie (Listen to Season 2).
Indian street dogs are not always defined strictly as property – “we don’t have to have a controlling relationship with these other animals, they are beings of their own” – Marie
Humans have touched most animal worlds but what relations are happening where humans are not the priority – “we are the background noise to whatever those relations are” – Claudia
Good that property came back (Listen to Season 1) – they are not autonomous or viewed as themselves
1:00:00 – What are you currently working on?
Currently finishing dissertation, things a little disrupted because of COVID-19. Looking at the experiences of slum residents and street dogs in Pune in India. Also talking to street do feeders.
Want to get in touch? Sociology website for Michigan State University. Under People Tab. They have a really cool program and a good concentration of people looking at animal related questions.
1:02:56 – The Animal Highlight (Crows)
There are videos on the Youtube Channel
01:06:23 – Thank you
Make Sure you check out the really cool reading list for this Season. It includes: