Animals – Humans – Society Interdisciplinary Animal Studies

© Konrad Gessner: Thierbouch, 1563

Since the dawn of civilisation, human beings and animals have had an ambivalent relationship. Animals are, for example, sources of meat; they are not infrequently considered enemies (vermin or predators, for instance) but they are sometimes also viewed as man’s best friends. From the earliest periods of human history, animals have been the subjects of art; in some periods they have been seen as the embodiment of gods, but then human beings have used them as objects of experimentation. The LOEWE research cluster “Animals – Humans – Society” draws on current debates on the treatment of animals (animal experimentation, intensive livestock farming, animal rights) but deliberately takes the matter further. One objective is to move these discussions forward by systematically considering the underlying principles.

On the one hand, the scientists start from the premise that human beings and animals must be viewed in their relationship with each other. On the other hand, they explore the historical and social conditions that form the basis of that relationship. After all, different constellations have led to very different types of relationships between human beings and animals ‒ and still do. This also results in changes in the perception and actual physical existence of human beings and animals. Research is therefore being conducted into forms of “creating” animals ‒ through animal breeding (selection, conferring awards), animal management (livestock, zoo animals), animal research (behavioural research, medical research) or animal representation (narrative, visual).

LOEWE Research Cluster


  • University of Kassel

Fields of study

  • Agricultural science (livestock ethology and animal husbandry, animal breeding)
  • German studies (German mediaeval studies)
  • History (modern and recent history, history of the early modern period, agricultural history)
  • Art (general art history, modern art history)
  • Philosophy (theoretical philosophy)
  • Theology (Catholic theology/Biblical theology)

Funding period

2014 to 2017

Project Coordinator

  • Prof. Dr. Mieke Roscher,

    University of Kassel


  • Kassel

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