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Keynote Speakers for 2017

Steve Baker is Emeritus Professor of Art History at the University of Central Lancashire, UK.  Much of his writing over the past twenty-five years has directly addressed the visual representation of animals in art and in popular culture, and has contributed to the international development of animal studies in the arts, humanities and social sciences.  His books include Artist|AnimalThe Postmodern Animal, and Picturing the Beast.  Selected writings have been translated into French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Italian, Polish and Spanish, and chapters from his books have been reprinted in Routledge’s Animals and Society: Critical Concepts in the Social Sciences, and in Berg’s The Animals Reader: The Essential Classic and Contemporary Writings.  Since 2010 he has focussed on the development of his art practice in parallel with his writing.  His artwork has been exhibited in the UK, USA, Australia and Europe, and was recently included in two major animal-themed museum shows: Ecce Animalia in Poland and Arche Noah in Germany.

Dr. Keri Cronin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Arts at Brock University (St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada). She is also a Faculty Affiliate in Brock’s Social Justice & Equity Studies graduate program and a founding member of the Social Justice Research Institute at Brock. She is the author of Manufacturing National Park Nature: Photography, Ecology, and the Wilderness Industry of Jasper (UBC Press) and the co-editor (with Kirsty Robertson) of Imagining Resistance: Visual Culture and Activism in Canada (Wilfrid Laurier University Press). Her current academic research explores the ways in which late 19th- and early 20th-century animal advocacy groups used art and visual culture in their campaigns. She is the curator of an exhibition called “Be Kind: The Visual History of Humane Education” which she developed for The Animal Museum, and is currently serving as the Chair of the Advisory Council for The Animal Museum. In addition to publishing in academic venues, she has also written several columns on the role of art in animal advocacy for Our Hen House. She has just launched a new multimedia project with Jo-Anne McArthur of We Animals called Unbound: Women on the Front Lines of Animal Advocacy (

Brett Mizelle is Professor of History and Director of the American Studies Program at California State University Long Beach. His publications include books, articles, book chapters, and reviews in the fields of nineteenth-century American history and the history of human-animal relationships. His book Pig (Reaktion Books, 2011) charts how humans have shaped the pig and how the pig has shaped us, focusing on the unresolved contradictions between the fiction and the reality of our relationships with pigs. His most recent articles trace the contestation over the training and exhibition of horses and big cats in the history of the American circus (in The American Circus [Bard Graduate Center & Yale University Press, 2012]), connect environmental history and American Studies by looking at historical and contemporary American food production and consumption (in Marguerite S. Shaffer and Phoebe S.K. Young, eds., Rendering Nature: Animals, Bodies, Places, Politics [University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015]), and engage the historical and contemporary challenges of multispecies work and justice. He is working on a book-length animal studies project on the discursive and material making and taking of animal life in nineteenth-century America and on the Reaktion “Animal Series” book Squirrel. He is also Associate Editor, History for Society and Animals, co-founder and editor of the H-Animal Discussion Network ( and the recipient of the Humane Society of the United States’ “Animals and Society Course Award” for his CSULB American Studies course “Animals in American Culture.”

Michał Piotr Pręgowski is Assistant Professor at the Warsaw University of Technology, Poland. He is a sociologist and a Fulbright alumnus whose research projects include social construction of dogs in the contemporary West, especially their naming and training, as well as social practices of commemorating companion animals. Michał is a member of International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ), as well as the Secretary of the Board of International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO). Pręgowski’s most recent works include edited volumes “Free Market Dogs: The Human-Canine Bond in Post-Communist Poland” (Purdue University Press, 2016) and “Companion Animals in Everyday Life: Situating Human-Animal Engagement within Cultures” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), and a contribution to Margo De Mello’s “Mourning Animals: Rituals and Practices Surrounding Animal Death” (Michigan State University Press, 2016).

April Truitt is co-founder of the Primate Rescue Center (PRC) in Nicholasville, Kentucky, and a founding member of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance. She became involved with primates in 1987, when her future husband, Clay Miller, brought home a young macaque named Gizmo. As the couple searched the available literature and monkey owners for information on caring for this fast-growing bundle of energy, they came across increasing numbers of once-beloved pets who were now unwanted as they grew older, stronger, and more unpredictable. So the couple built additional cages for the castoffs and began buying monkey chow in bulk. Soon there was a call from a research laboratory wanting to retire a few animals, then one from a national humane organization that had two confiscated monkeys to place, then another from someone who had been badly injured by her pet…. “It seems as though one day there were five monkeys to feed, and the next day there were fifty,” Truitt says. “It’s so hard to say ‘No’ when there are so few alternatives for these animals.” From these humble beginnings, the Primate Rescue Center has evolved into a nationally respected sanctuary housing more than 50 primates, including chimpanzees. Now April looks forward to the day when keeping primates as pets is unthinkable, and primate sanctuaries are no longer needed.

The PRC’s work has been featured in the award-winning book Animal Underworld, by investigative journalist Alan Green and the Center for Public Integrity, in the magazine Animals’ Agenda (now Animals and Society Institute), on television and in newspapers nationwide. Supported solely by tax-deductible donations, the Primate Rescue Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has earned the “Accredited Charity” designation from the Better Business Bureau, and is licensed and inspected by the USDA. You can find out about the PRC (and dontate) at

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