Thera Naiman

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Thera Naiman is Ph.D. candidate at Johns Hopkins University in the history department and received a grant to conduct archival research on animal rights activists from the Société protectrice des animaux in Paris for her dissertation, “Disordered Taxonomies: Zoos and Difference in Late Nineteenth-Century France.” Her dissertation calls for a rethinking of top-down models of natural history and zoology. She writes:

My research proposes that these classificatory systems were challenged and reimagined by those whom historians have not considered active agents in the process: visitors, zookeepers, activists, and—perhaps most importantly—the displayed animals and people themselves.

Thera’s 2019 grant allowed her to conduct six weeks of archival research in Paris on the nineteenth-century animal advocates from the Société Protectrice des Animaux (SPA). Using this research, she drafted an academic article examining the SPA’s debates over the treatment of animals by racial and religious others, specifically by Muslims in Algeria and Jews in metropolitan France. In Fall 2020, she taught a course at Johns Hopkins entitled “From Darwin to Babar: Animals and Humans in Historical Perspective,” with the support of a Dean’s Teaching Fellowship.