Upcoming Talks

Making Sense with Rats: Transgressing Species in East Africa

In English, the phrase ‘to make sense’ has several meanings. When something makes sense, it is considered intelligible or comprehensible; it can also refer to something that is wise or reasonable, “the right tools for the job” (Clarke and Fujimura 1992). These definitions, however, assume implicit understandings of what is intelligible, comprehensible, or wise. In situations where humans and other animals work together, sensing practices are seldom taken for granted and have to be actively trained, or shaped through deliberate, sustained relationships. This talk describes species transgressing sensory labors and thinking among people and rats who work together to detect landmines and tuberculosis in humanitarian projects based in Tanzania. I present work in progress from my proposed book manuscript, featuring an analysis of how humans and rodents work together to produce a ‘common sense’ (Latour 2014) embedded within a politics of scientific knowledge production in Africa.

Rats!  Fabulation, Translation, Transmission

Rats are fable species in many ways. Not only do they feature prominently in fable traditions worldwide, but also we continuously invent and retell rat fables of our time. Rats are, for instance, a model species, extensively studied in experiments to uncover the stories of human nature. Vilified as vermin, they have given rise to countless ‘fables’ of rodent damage and havoc, offering perspectives on our societal values and norms. Their newfound role as a vector of plague transformed them into epidemiological fables, embodying cross-species infection and transmission, facilitated by global circulation.  This workshop brings together six scholars specialising in rats to explore the nature and shapes of rat fables. Weaving together two papers and four shorter rat fable-telling, we aim to consider our varied and often contradictory representations of this species, as well as our relationships with rats and the world we share with them. Please join us and bring your rat ‘fables’ with you (we bet you must have some); we’d love you to be part of our rat fable-telling exercise and network.


Speakers: Prof. Christos Lynteris (University of St. Andrews) and Prof. Lucinda Cole (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) / Dr Jia Hui Lee (University of Bayreuth),  Dr. Jules Skotnes-Brown (University of St. Andrews), Rory Hutchings (University of Kent) and Dr Kaori Nagai (University of Kent)