Workshop – Conversations on Empathy

An interdisciplinary encounter

Girl holding a severed deer's head
  Picture by Misha Vallejo.

The School of Anthropology and Conservation were delighted to host the research event Conversations on Empathy: An interdisciplinary encounter at Canterbury Cathedral Lodge on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th May.


The concept of empathy has been emerging as a hot topic in both academia and the public sphere. Contemporary works in the cognitive and neurosciences, developmental and evolutionary psychology, and animal ethology have shown how empathy is critical for the development of sociality in humans and nonhumans. Empathy has also received theoretical attention in anthropology, cultural studies and philosophy as a key capacity for constituting one’s sense of self and others. Despite this attention, empathy has rarely been addressed in an interdisciplinary way.

This workshop aims to initiate such cross-fertilisation by bringing together a group of scholars from a variety of backgrounds who have used different research methodologies and theoretical approaches to study empathy. In particular, the workshop will address the broad question of what empathy is, and how it relates to questions of perception, intersubjectivity and nonhuman life. Through cross-cultural perspectives, the workshop will consider how specific forms of empathy can be developed, hindered or gain salience in different environments. It will also address the question of how empathy towards other-than-humans can be fostered or not within everyday practices and what this particular form of empathy might mean.

Emphasising the affective, cognitive, imaginative and bodily aspects of empathy as it is constituted in practice in a range of different settings, the event proposes to make an original contribution to the social sciences through an interdisciplinary study of empathy.

Confirmed speakers include:

Event organised by Francesca Mezzenzana and Daniela Peluso.

The full timings and schedule of the workshop, including presentation titles and abstracts, can be found here.

Image courtesy of Misha Vallejo.

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