Researcher-Native Relations: Ethical considerations relating to emerging animal models in Australian science

Prof. Rachel A. Ankeny1, Karina Burns

1University Of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia

This paper considers ethical issues relating to the use of native animals as emerging models in contemporary Australian research. Native animals often hold special social and cultural significance both within and outside of their home countries. In this paper using published scientific literature, supplemented by interviews and popular media coverage, we explore how researchers working with native Australian species think about their animal research subjects and how these attitudes or ways of thinking are influenced by broader structures such as existing norms within society and in various types of research as well as popular conceptions about ferals, invasives, or protected species. We also investigate the silences present when native organisms are utilized for research, and show ways in which native animal models simultaneously have multiple roles and types of relations with respect to researchers. We thus contend that in order to thoroughly consider the ethics of research with native animal models, it is critical to understand researcher-animal relations as deeply situated in relation to the particularities of the models utilised and closely tied to scientific practices.


Professor Rachel A. Ankeny is in the School of Humanities (History and Philosophy) at the University of Adelaide, where she also serves as the Associate Dean Research and the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and Vice President of AABHL. An interdisciplinary teacher and scholar whose areas of expertise cross three fields (bioethics and science policy, history/philosophy of science, and food studies), she is team leader of the ARC Discovery Project “Organisms and Us: How Living Things Help Us To Understand Our World.”

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