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This profile was last updated on 8/11/14  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.

Dr. Brett Mills

Wrong Dr. Brett Mills?

Senior Lecturer

Phone: +44 **** ******  HQ Phone
University of East Anglia
Norwich Research Park
Norwich , Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

Company Description: The University of East Anglia (UEA) is an internationally renowned, research-led University, known for its pioneering and collaborative approach to research which...   more

Employment History

51 Total References
Web References
A Troubling Picture | Ido Liven, 13 June 2014 [cached]
In a 2010 academic paperon nature documentaries, Brett Mills, a senior lecturer at the University of East Anglia, argued that such films deny many wildlife species their right to privacy. In
a follow up commentary Mills published in The Guardian, he explained his intention was to raise an issue that nature photographers and filmmakers might not be taking into account: "Are there types of animal behavior, or places where such behavior takes place, where it might be right for humans to ponder whether or not it is appropriate to film them? he wrote.
While acknowledging the value of nature photography and photographers' ethical considerations, Mills claimed this is a dilemma that is often ignored. For example, photographers and filmmakers routinely capture intimate situations such as mating or birthing that most humans would refuse to have filmed.
We have no way of knowing whether animals agree to be filmed or photographed, he wrote. "But, significantly, when we don't [know] whether consent is forthcoming for humans, the likely ethical response is to decide that filming is inappropriate. So why should it be different when the subjects are not human?
Mills doesn't offer a practical solution, but writes: "Perhaps thinking about how we treat animals in documentaries could help us think about our relationship to the whole world around us, which can surely be no bad thing.
Towards a Theory of Representation for Animals « Tom Jeffreys, 1 April 2013 [cached]
In few places is this clearer than the mainstream reception of recent research by Dr Brett Mills, Senior Lecturer in Film, Television and Media Studies at the University of East Anglia. Back in 2010, something of a media storm was inadvertently whipped up, in which the Guardian, Daily Mail and others reported that Mills had claimed nature documentaries constituted an infringement of animals' rights to privacy.
Mills is quick to recognise that, up to a point, this is simply part of the process - different writers having different audiences and different roles to fulfill - and he distances himself from the idea that mainstream media should, as some academics seem to think, act as a mouthpiece for their research. "I don't understand the point in working and researching in a university if it's not connecting to the outside world in some way, but it's unbelievably pompous to think that the role of the media is simply to disseminate our knowledge," he laughs. "That's our role!"
Still, it's a significant problem when such compelling and genuinely original research into humanity's representation of animals cannot currently reach a wider audience without being critically undermined in advance. Because the points that Mills is trying to make are much more nuanced than newspaper headlines are able to convey.
The point then is that a particular framework of interpretation is imposed upon animal behaviour, one which has a very singular vision of what 'normal' human behaviour is or should be, and one that is actually justified, as Mills, writes, "via the very representation it defines".
Likewise, Mills makes a particularly interesting point in Television wildlife documentaries and animals' right to privacy, an article published in Continuum in 2010. In it he observes how the BBC's approach to the idea of privacy differs according to whether the subject is human or non-human.
Mills ascribes this in part to a class issue, but also to media techniques of representation - narrative arcs, voice-overs etc. So there is a logical link between his two fields of research, however unlikely it may seem at first. As he tells me, "The animal question is, for me, a debate about television representation - how you use the authority of science to think about culture."
Currently, Mills is preparing a paper provisionally entitled Towards a theory of representation for animals in which he aims to explore how much of the theoretical frameworks set up by academics in the fields of gender studies and disability studies can be transferred across to animal studies. "Weirdly," he says, "science has colonised the discussions about animals.
In a way, Mills is saying something not dissimilar, particularly when our conversation leads on to the understandable controversial subject of whether or not animals might have a sense of humour.
Just A Theory » Getting It Wrong [cached]
Wildlife documentaries infringe an animal's right to privacy, says Brett Mills, a lecturer in film studies at the University of East Anglia:
Brett Mills : Nick Anstead, 27 Nov 2012 [cached]
As I tweeted earlier today, my colleague Brett Mills is having a bit of an odd day. He has been pilloried on CiF, readers of the Indy website have said rude things about him and (apparently, I haven't heard it yet) Gabby Logan on Radio 5 asked him if he gets off on watching mice have sex.
Why this vitriol? Brett, a Senior Lecturer in the Film and Television Studies School at UEA, recently authored a paper arguing that animals have a right to privacy, a right frequently violated by wildlife programme makers.
Tags: Brett Mills, human rights, Political Theory, UEA>
Gay animals an inconvenient truth for BBC, claims study, 8 Feb 2013 [cached]
The study, by Dr Brett Mills of the University of East Anglia (UK), examined how breeding, sexuality, monogamy and ideas of the family were presented within the BBC's classic television wildlife documentaries.
Mills claims the documentaries focus on human "norms" of sexuality and family and any alternative behaviors are side-lined or ignored. "Heterosexuality is upheld as the norm in wildlife documentaries and the idea of the family it presents is one which equates the family with heterosexuality," he said.
Mills chose BBC documentaries because of their dominance and reputation in the field of wildlife filmmaking. In particular, he examined the use of voiceovers because of the significant role they play in wildlife documentaries.
"Voiceovers tell the audience how to make sense of what is being seen," said Mills. "Indeed, it is the necessity of envisaging a sense-making voiceover for sequences or images that is likely to be one of the factors taken into account when editorial decisions are being made about what to include or exclude from a program. The environment, via the voiceover, is interpreted and understood via decidedly human cultural norms and assumptions."
He suggests that forms of animal behavior which are commonly missing in such programming demonstrate how ideas of sexuality, monogamy and family persist within human debates, adding: "The descriptions of animal behavior, because of their association with the 'natural', play a telling role in the policing of human behavior."
Mills speculates that wildlife documentaries could usefully provide a view of alternative lifestyles and non-traditional ways of organizing families and social interaction.
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