The animal advocacy movement has a rich visual history, and for her ongoing contributions to the movement, Brock University art historian Keri Cronin has been made a Fellow with the prestigious Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.
The Visual Arts associate professor is particularly interested in the ways those working for animal advocacy in previous eras used images in campaigns.
“It’s really important to think about the relationships that exist between images and animal ethics because representations of animals shape how we think about them, how we treat them,” says Cronin, who is also a Faculty Affiliate in Brock’s Social Justice and Equity Studies graduate program and a founding member of the Social Justice Research Institute. “Images can have real-world consequences for actual flesh-and-blood animals.”
“My work asks people to consider what happens if we think about these images as part of the larger cultural narrative about how we treat animals, how we decide what counts as ‘cruel’ or ‘humane’ treatments and how those ideas shift over time.”
Cronin’s research has lead her to archives across North America and the U.K. in search of material such as leaflets and handbills, which often have not been catalogued or preserved in the same way as material on other topics.
The Visual Arts professor has published several books on visual culture and activism and has recently curated an exhibit, “Be Kind: The Visual History of Humane Education” for The Animal Museum.
She has also launched a new multimedia project with Jo-Anne McArther of We Animals called Unbound: Women on the Front Lines of Animal Advocacy.
Cronin’s forthcoming book, Do Not Refuse to Look at These Pictures: Visual Culture and Animal Advocacy 1870-1914, is due out this year and she hopes it sparks conversation and awareness about the visual culture of early animal advocacy.
The Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, now comprised of more 100 international scholars, draws together academics from the humanities and sciences, including subjects as diverse as philosophy, theology, law, biology, history, social sciences, literature and politics.
Membership is by invitation only and only a small portion of those nominated are eventually selected. The lengthy and painstaking selection process recognizes those have made outstanding contributions to the field of animal ethics.
Cronin is the second Brock professor to join the Centre; Sociology professor Lauren Corman is an Associate Fellow in recognition of her interdisciplinary work on animal rights, posthumanism, feminist, critical race, labour, and environmental theories and practices.