Why a PhD?
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
Two reasons, interchangeably jostling for pole position throughout my journey.
Backgrounds, experiences, perspectives all weave to form our personalities which in turn stitch together our personal biographies. A working class background formed my foundation upon which limited expectations and a frayed schooling system birthed me, naively into the 'real world'. Unprepared and unsuitably supported my hard-studied education was fruitless in helping me steer my journey to a flourishing future. I rendered my 1 year polytechnic experience a disaster on several scarring fronts and for several years ambition atrophied.
Fortunately, the military saved me. An artifact from my ancestors' stories the only gateway that radiated an exit from my class-gravitized past, towards my future. Although military patriarchal viewpoints and the 'girl power' the 1980/1990s catalysed brought our relationship to an end the Royal Air Force had put some discipline into my fire for new experiences eventually I decided I wanted to study again. Although, a BSc (Hons) and MA Environment, Policy and Society both though the Open University later I still knew I had not found a way to express myself competently.
Our biographies are full of echos, vacillating between whispers or shrieks. The mark of an un-approving father lasts, crushing my confidence to even try to speak articulately. My interest vegetarianism (later veganism) and interest in global environmental issues invited besmirchment from my people who surrounded me.
I was unconscious, for sometime, how deeply embedded another strand formed within my biography was stitched. 'Animals'.
"Practises of speciesism begin early in childhood when "we begin a lifelong work of differentiating ourselves from [animals]." Through a succession of collectively mediated disconnections, the human psyche becomes increasingly experiences as anthropocentric: a process that is defined by and demands the denial of animal agency and their reduction to the status of objects." (Bradshaw and Watkins, 2006)
For a while, feeling self-pity and self-frustration I decided to not bother, to be a party person, to try to fit in, to forget the 'others'. But 'Novocaine for the Soul' (Everett and Goldenberg, 1996) can only take effect for so long, abrasions and lacerations create new, fresh, fibres, ready to be woven.
Reflecting upon my journey with animals in my life, norms I accepted despite my instinct; words I didn't speak in their defense, despite my impulse; institutionalised species individuals endured, victims of human-centered needs, desires, apathy, my psyche's echos shrieked. Anthrozoology is the bonfire, upon whose flames I can cremate the speciesist teachings I traditionally, uncomfortably accepted; cauterize my fears of my own ability; ignite the path to vanquish my father's disparagement; and, most importantly, speak for those to whom we do not listen.
Bradshaw, G. A., and Watkins, M. (2006) Trans-species psychology: Theory and praxis. A Journal of Archetype and Culture 75(1): 1–26.
Everett, M. O., and Goldenberg, M. (1996) Novocaine For The Soul. DreamWorks.