Week 24 — find small spaces for forbidden joy

I’m writing this on a train from Edinburgh to London. I adore Edinbugh.

I also love trains. I love sitting backwards and watching the landscape fade away from me. By far, the superior method of distance transportation. This wee train article about the Amtrak in America kinda encapsulates some of the many things I love about trains.

By train, every place is surprising, every place is worth seeing — as, in fact, it is in real life. You see the country on a human scale, each glade and wood a different delight. You see it from the same vantage point as its residents. And you often see the places that do not appeal to travel websites or Instagram: junctions, depots, industrial quarters, working neighborhoods, back alleys.

I am not a train-watcher.

Cat Culture, Human Culture: An Ethnographic Study of a Cat Shelter
by Alger and Alger

Animals this week covered multi-species ethnography, animals as research participants. Ethnography is so rich in detail. I find it makes it both easy to read and really interesting. This paper is adorable. I love how much they love these cats. Not just the researchers but also, very evidently, the volunteers at the shelter.

It also absolutely slaps on the anthropomorphism debate

We believe that anthropomorphism is best understood as a distancing concept intended to obscure the real intersubjectivity that exists between human and non-human animals.

… the elimination of speciesism would leave no aspect of our culture or institutions untouched. … In short, our belief that anthropomorphism must be avoided at all costs is central to our very way of life. It allows us socially to construct beings, who can be used, unimpeded by moral considerations.

Emoji summary: 🐈🐱🧑

Naturalcultural Encounters in Bali
by Agustín Fuentes

Monkeys instead of cats. Actually that’s not quite right, the two articles are quite different. This one has much more of a focus on how the animal and human change each other in shared ecologies.

We need to reject domesticated versus wild, natural versus unnatural, and engagement versus detachment dichotomies …. We should move past the notion of definitive discrete distinctions in favor of fluid and reciprocating interfaces that change over time creating spaces, bodies, and niches of relevance to our understanding of human animal and other animal experiences.

Emoji summary: 🐒 🏞 🔗

Conventional science will not do justice to nonhuman interests: A fresh approach is required
by Becca Franks, Chistine Webb, Monica Gagliano, Barbara Smuts

A very short paper that calls for the need to prioritise nonhuman interests and outlines approaches to do so.

To meet the modern crises of climate change, environmental pollution and degradation, and mass species extinction, animal interests (including the interests of the particular animals involved in the research) must be given priority over external considerations.

Emoji summary: 🕵️‍♀️ 🌏 🐾

by The White Pube

You might have heard that universities across the country are striking. This writeup is one of the best I’ve read on the reasons and its importance. Even though it is strongly from an ‘art school’ perspective, the main points apply across the academy.

This strike is a last resort to protect the standards of higher education, and the issues under dispute affect both students and staff – they affect us all in wider but still tangible ways. This is important, we cannot lose this fight. … With current working conditions the way they are, things are lowkey highkey dire. Pls, let us have one smol smol win.

Emoji summary: 🎓 🖌 👨🏻‍🎓

The Archival Turn in Feminism: Outrage in Order
by Kate Eichhorn

Research into the archiving of feminist artifacts, particularly riot grrrl and zine culture. What happens when radical, anti-establishment material becomes part of an archive in an institution? How do you protect and collect these objects without them becoming assimilated and codified into normative categories? What is the purpose of an archive, to protect or something else?

I liked this book a lot.

…the archival turn in feminism is as much about shoring up a younger generation’s legacy and honoring elders as it is about imagining and working to build possible worlds in the present and for the future.

Emoji summary: ️‍🗃 🚺 🏫

Life As Nan Goldin Knows It
interview by Thora Siemsen

Both Nan Goldin and her work are amazing. There was an exhibition at the Tate a little bit ago. People were crying in it.

This interview is just gorgeous, I can’t get enough of it.

David [Armstrong] was my best friend of my life. He introduced me to myself. When I met him, I spoke in a whisper, I was painfully shy. He basically gave me a personality, or showed me that I had one. He taught me how to laugh. I think after he died, I lost my personality again, to some extent. That's what a friend can do. They can be a reflection of you, the best you can't see. My friendships are the major relationships of my life. They were the family that I had in my life.

She also talks a little about her activism. If you haven’t seen it, read the interview and then look up the interventions she’s organised because they are great. Better than the art in the museums.

Emoji summary: 💊 📸 👥

No Boots Without Leather
by James Wham

I feel like the beginning of this needs a content warning. The description of what happens to the cow is explicit. If you are anything like me, it might bother you. Humans really are a scourge. Sometimes I wonder if we’ll look back on this time and the way we treat living things with the same horror that we look back on the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

…the prolonged spectacle of Nick’s butchery aptly captures the vulgar disparity of the man-cow relationship—and, moreover, the extent to which we subjugate, dominate, and destroy certain species in the pursuit of human betterment.

Emoji summary: 🔪 🐄 😰


An article that shows how incredible rats are but still somehow ends with calling them ‘vermin’. It’s us, we, the human-animal that are the vermin.

A newsletter about the future revived for Coronavirus

5IT won’t be about coronavirus, but what coronavirus shows us about the moment we’re living in.

Our entry to the So(cial) Good Design Awards by Una Lee. Una started the design studio And Also Too, which is pretty amazing. Years ahead in design discourse around power and justice.

Too often, designers are lauded for work that has little connection to the communities they are impacting and too rarely does the graphic design industry hold itself accountable for its harmful impacts.

It’s International Women’s Day. I’m starting to become a little embarrassed by the whole feminism thing. Mostly because of white women continuing to prioritise their experience over that of other oppressed and marginalised people. Anyway, my job published a blog about The women who shaped our service which is both nice and not all white, thank god.

Some tweets. First, a cool story about library data. And a sad story about an internet archive being shut down.


Emoji summary is 100% nicked off my favourite art critics The White Pube. They said they don’t mind.