Love Me to Death: A Performative Ritual with Rats

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Rat and human populations inhabit the same space. Rats as a species have been given different kinds of classifications, from lab and fancy rats to pests and even circus animals. The sociozoologic scale ranks humans higher than other animals within a structure of meaning that allows humans to define, reinforce and justify their interactions with other beings (DeMello, 2012: 51). Humans have labelled rats within roles that can be both good (e.g., pets and lab rats, thus useful) and bad (e.g., pests that spread diseases, thus harmful).I argue that the spreading of diseases, such as the plague, has been one of the reasons why humans have a controversial relationship with rats, causing them to be despised. Rats, like humans, may have multiple identities. I propose that by imagining their perspectives empathetically, humans can look at rats as beings from which humans can learn. I attempt to situate rat–human controversies and their multiple relations within the era of ecocide which is environmental destruction due human actions. How could the idea of the rat be better understood within the human community, and what could this idea reveal about humans themselves? How are rats metaphorically scapegoated for human troubles, and could this metaphor be a symbol representing the relations humans within ecosystems in general? How can these questions be emphasised in a performance in the context of art?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Proceedings of Polititcs of the machines - Rogue Research 2021
Subtitle of host publicationPOM 2021
Place of PublicationBerlin, Germany
PublisherBCS, The Chartered Institute for IT
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021
MoE publication typeA3 Book section, Chapters in research books
EventPolitics of the Machines: Rogue Research - University of Art, Berlin, Germany
Duration: 14 Sept 202117 Sept 2021
Conference number: 3

Publication series

NameElectronic Workshops in Computing
ISSN (Print)1477-9358


ConferencePolitics of the Machines
Abbreviated titlePOM
Internet address


  • rat
  • interspecies
  • performance
  • ritual
  • art
  • death
  • ecocide


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