Veronica Policarpo

Institute of Social Sciences
University of Lisboa
Country: Portugal

Veronica Policarpo is a research fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisboa (ICS-ULisboa), in the field of Human-Animal Studies. Her current research interests are focused on human-animal relationships and the construction of daily practices and bonds between human and non-human animals. She is interested in a more-than-human approach in which all living beings are considered as active stakeholders and collaborators in the co-construction of shared worlds. Currently, she explores this subject in two different topics: the relationships between children and companion animals; and the situation of non-human animals in disasters. At ICS-ULisboa, she coordinates, within this field of studies: the Human-Animal Studies Hub, with the support of the Animals & Society Institute and its International Development Award ;project “CLAN – Children-Animal’s Friendships: challenging boundaries between humans and non-humans in contemporary societies” (PTDC/SOC 28415/2017); project “Liminal Becomings: reframing human-animal relationships in disasters” (CEECIND/02719/2017); the International Summer School in Human-Animal Studies, a collaboration between ICS-ULisboa and the University of Westeros (Sweden); the post-graduate course “Animais e Sociedade”; the “Animal Wonder – Reading Group on Human-Animal Studies; and the Webinar “The Post-Human Animal”.

Organizing Ecologies of (Human) Abandonment on Portuguese Wildfires

This presentation discusses how animals are considered in organizing practices in response to wildfires and their contribution to community resilience. It focuses on the phenomenon of mega-fires in Portugal, where human absence in former areas of rural production has transformed multispecies landscapes into ecologies of (human) abandonment that challenge practices of environmental governance. The literature on disaster management, organizing practices, and multispecies studies is used to challenge predominantly anthropocentric perspectives in fire and disaster management. Data was collected from participatory workshops with local stakeholders from four municipalities in Portugal most affected by the wildfires in 2017. The study analyzed the answers using qualitative content analysis. The presentation will argue that non-human animals can contribute to fire management practices by disorganizing them, unveiling the anthropocentric structure of land and disaster management, and opening new possibilities to reimagine them. The study also highlights the entangled vulnerability of human and nonhuman animals in the face of wildfires and the importance of considering the vulnerability of all species in social practices that organize fire management. In this regard, the study argues that attending to the vulnerability of some humans, who are systematically forgotten by public policy, is crucial to address the entangled vulnerabilities of non-human and human animals to wildfires. This means we need to intertwine different invisibilities, of animals and of (some) humans, if we wish to address their shared vulnerability to wildfires.