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Rita Bouwens

Profile picture for Rita Bouwens

Contact Information

Davenport Hall, room 384

Office Hours

Fall 2023: T 3:30-5:30
Sociocultural Anthropology


Rita is a PhD student in sociocultural anthropology with a focus on multispecies ethnography and human-animal relations. Her MA thesis focused on how accredited U.S. zoos aim to support wildlife conservation and create a conservation-minded community by curating immersive multispecies experiences. Rita had examined how zoos may practice conservation through the frameworks of biopolitics and managed care, spectacle and nonhuman animal display, affect generation, and mainstream neoliberal conservation paradigms. 

Prior to beginning graduate study, Rita taught English in Henan Province, China, from 2016-2018.

Rita's current research interests include the ownership/caretaking of companion animals, multispecies families, pet retention, and paradigms of animal sheltering and welfare in the U.S./Midwest.

Research Interests

Human-animal relations; companion animals; multispecies ethnography; multispecies futures and coexistence; political ecology; neoliberalized wildlife conservation and governance; biopolitics; alternative futures and ontologies; settler-nature relationships; austerity politics; public and private sector relations.


M.A., Applied Anthropology, Mississippi State University, 2021

B.A., Anthropology, Modern Languages and Literatures (Spanish and French), Beloit College, 2016

Additional Campus Affiliations

HRI Animal Turn Research Cluster

University Extension

Animal Studies Summer Institute (ASSI) - Center for Advanced Study (CAS)


Highlighted Publications

Bouwens, Rita. 2021. "A Zoological Spectacular: Conservation in an American Zoo." Order No. 28648990, Mississippi State University.…;