The Animal Turn

S3E1: Right to the City with Marie Carmen Shingne

April 05, 2021 Claudia Hirtenfelder Season 3 Episode 1
The Animal Turn
S3E1: Right to the City with Marie Carmen Shingne
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode Claudia speaks to Marie Carmen Shingne about the concept ‘Right to the City’ and how it could be applied to animals. They open up this season, focusing on animals and the urban, by asking whether animals have any claims to the city. 


Date recorded: 1 March 2021


Marie Carmen Shingne is a doctoral candidate in the Sociology Department at Michigan State University with specializations in animal studies and global urban studies. Her dissertation research is focused on the experiences of the slum residents and street dogs in the Indian city of Pune and what these experiences tell us about power in and access to urban spaces and resources. Using multispecies ethnographic methods, her research asks: how is the urban space currently shared and negotiated by different urban human and nonhuman residents, in what ways are the human and nonhuman residents impacted by these negotiations, and what does an inclusive and equitable city look like according to various stakeholders? Marie Carmen can be reached via email at 


Claudia (Towne) Hirtenfelder is the founder and host of The Animal Turn. She is a PhD Candidate in Geography and Planning at Queen’s University and is currently undertaking her own research project looking at the geographical and historical relationships between animals (specifically cows) and cities. Contact Claudia via email ( or follow her on Twitter (@ClaudiaFTowne).


Featured: The more-than-human right to the city: A multispecies reevaluation by Marie Carmen Shingne;  Among the Bone Eaters: Encounters with Hyenas in Harar by Marcus Baynes-Rock; Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights by Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka; Street dogs at the intersection of colonialism and informality: ‘Subaltern animism’ as a posthuman critique of Indian cities by Yamini Narayanan; and The biopolitics of animal being and welfare: dog control and care in the UK and India by Krithika Srinivasan, S3 Animal Highlight on Youtube


Animals in Philosophy, Politics, Law and Ethics (A.P.P.L.E)

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The Animal Turn is hosted and produced by Claudia Towne Hirtenfelder. The podcast is part of iROAR, an Animals Podcasting Network and can also be found on A.P.P.L.E, Twitter, and Instagram. You can find all seasons, episodes, reading lists and bonus content on our website.

00:00 – Introduction 

  • “How do you define the city? And how do you identify you consider a resident?”
  • The website is launched –
  • This season is focused on Animals and The Urban
  • Bedrock of understanding animals and the law – Keep in our mind that animals are viewed as property and what this means for the types of relations they can form (Listen to Season 1); also animals and experience – there are a variety of relations for animals to experience (Listen to Season 2). 
  • In this first episode we ask – who has a right to the city and we talk about it with Marie Carmen Shingne
  • This helps us begin the question – “Who is a city for?”


3:30 – Welcome

  • Marie – “I have that typical I always wanted to work with animals’ stories”
  • Did a master’s in animals and Public Policy and she heard a presentation about street dogs in Eastern Europe which was very different to how people interact with stray dogs in the US. People outside of the US seemed to be content with more free-roaming dogs – this opened up a new understanding for Marie and opened up “a world of other animals that we don’t even necessarily think abut as being in the urban setting”
  • “In the western world, as you grow up think of animals as in your home, on a farm or in the wilderness – you don’t think of them as being residents in a city” - Marie
  • Did more hands-on work but kept being interested in how animals are categorised and defined – which launched her PhD


07:00 – We think of the urban as a human space

  • “For me the Urban space is interesting because of our idea that urban equals human” – Marie
  • “The city is kind of used to hold up that divide…and the minute you spend a minute thinking about it you realise that the city is…more-than-human” – Claudia
  • “Why should we care?” that there are animals in the city? – Claudia
  • “The urban space is growing continuously…we are starting to see this major shift into a very urbanised world and the estimate from that UN report is that we would have basically shifted…we will have almost 70% in urban spaces…which means our population is growing and our urban population is growing….As we are building urban space…we are taking over territory that ‘belonged’ to other animals” – Marie
  • “We can’t just take over everything and call it ours without thinking about the other beings we share this world with” – Marie


12:58 – Resources, Nature and Cities 

  • How does consumption in cities today change not only urban landscapes but landscapes outside of them – landscapes tasked with servicing the urban
  • “In India they are focused on bringing technology into the city to improve it…It continues this trend of trying to build cities apart from nature” – Marie
  • Urbanisation is a process – maybe need to think through how this is attached to other animals lives. 
  • “Is the urban not also nature?” – Claudia 
  • “We think of urban and nature. It’s this divide --.” We keep trying to categorise everything  - Marie 
  • Urban Ecologists might think or urbanisation as a distinct ecology
  • We tend to think in stark boundaries  


17: 40 – What is Rights to the City?

  • This could be a legal or a social question – “How does the social influence how we legalise our systems?”
  • The Right to the City is “for anybody who is residing in and experiencing the city” – to be able to “access the resources you need to thrive” 
  • Physical space and being equipped with the ability to thrive
  • Your claim to the city – “you should have just as much of an ability to access what the city has to offer as anybody else?” – Marie
  • From the paper – whose right to the city? What right? Which city


24:30 – Whose right?

  • “How do you think of a raccoon as having access to rights and those resources?” … “How do you define a city and who do you define as a resident?” – Marie 
  • “Who gets to determine the rights?” – Claudia 
  • Kymlicka and Donaldson’s ZoopolisCitizenship, Sovereign, Denizenship (Listen to Will Kymlicka talk about animal rights). 
  • Multispecies ethnography needs to centre the animals we are interested in – Marcus Baynes Rock, Among the Bone Eaters is a good example of a researcher trying to understand animals’ view of their own world (Listen to Marcus Baynes-Rock talk about Multispecies Commons). 
  • Difficult to manage different expectations and claims to the urban space? How are the needs of raccoons and hyenas different? There are tensions between animals and it is complicated. 
  • “Humans have to learn how to somehow give up a little bit of control” – Marie


 31:48 – Dogs in the City 

  • How do dog parks fit into the urban space? There are different types of urban dogs? Pet versus stray dogs, for example 
  • Challenge the idea of talking about this at the species level, there are different cultural dimensions (Listen to Carl Safina talk about animal culture). 
  • What do dogs want to do?
  • What would happen if there were different generations teaching each other?


35:35 – Which City? And categorisations 

  • Every city should be thinking about these things. There might be systematic ideas but you need to think about individual cities. 
  • New Cities will need to think about these multispecies questions in a different way
  • “To what extent should cities be rewilded?”
  • How do developing and developed cities react differently to creating multispecies rights 
  • “How do we start to get people to view the city as more than human and the other animals has being worthwhile and having a claim to the space?” – Claudia 
  • Academics and welfare organisations need to disrupt some of the categories they use
  • Wildlife versus liminal animals – different interactions and experiences
  • Change requires thought and discomfort
  • Hard work of thinking – how can we think about this in a more complicated way?
  • Blurring of the edges and softening of the divides between categories.
  • The significance of complicated and ambivalent feelings.


49:00 – The work of activists 

  •  They are significant in disturbing the space and making it claimable. 
  • Significance of focusing on legal cases for animal rights. 
  • Animal Justice released an expose 
  • Anonymous for the Voiceless  also disrupt the urban space and in some ways claim space on behalf of animals. They also make the food systems apparent in the city – Claudia


52:00 – Agriculture in the city 

  • People don’t think about how agriculture has been pushed from cities. 
  • Transportation between cities and farms – shifts in industrialisation
  • “We forget how linked agriculture and city growth is” – Marie


54:00 – Quotes (Narayanan, 2016; Srinivasan, 2013) 


  • Dogs have territorial boundaries
  • “Our responsibility to think about how we think about the environment but also how other animals think about their environments” – Marie (Listen to Season 2).
  • Indian street dogs are not always defined strictly as property – “we don’t have to have a controlling relationship with these other animals, they are beings of their own” – Marie
  • Humans have touched most animal worlds but what relations are happening where humans are not the priority – “we are the background noise to whatever those relations are” – Claudia 
  • Good that property came back form (Listen to Season 1);  – they are not autonomous or viewed as themselves 


1:00:00 – What are you currently working on?

  • Currently finishing dissertation, things a little disrupted because of COVID-19. Looking at the experiences of slum residents and street dogs in Pune  in India. Also talking to street do feeders. 
  • Want to get in touch? Sociology website for Michigan State University. Under People Tab. They have a really cool programme and a good concentration of people looking at animal related questions. 


1:02:56 – The Animal Highlight (Crows) 

  • Joshua Klein, the amazing intelligence of crows
  • David Attenborough, BBC, crows in Japan 
  • Crows, Magpies, and their problem-solving skills
  • There are videos on the Youtube Channel


01:06:23 – Thank you

  • Thank you to Marie Carmen Shingne for being a wonderful guest; A.P.P.L.E for sponsoring this podcast, Jeremy John for the logo, and Gordon Clarke for the bed music 

Compiled by Claudia Hirtenfelder

Welcome to Season 3 and Housekeeping
Welcoming Marie and she tells us a bit about herself
We think of the urban as a human space
Cities, Resources, and the Idea of Nature
What is "Rights to the City"?
Whose right?
Dogs in the City
Which city? And categorisations
Activists and Agriculture in the City
Discussion about Quote
What are you currently working on?
The Animal Highlight (Crows)
Thank you and Goodbye