La disciplina del Derecho Animal, cada vez más extendida, se suele debatir desde una perspectiva angloamericana. Es fundamental superar este panorama hacia más diversidad, transmisión de conocimientos e intercambio de ideas. El objetivo de esta mesa redonda es facilitar un espacio de discusión para expertos en Derecho Animal con experiencia en el contexto latinoamericano, con el fin de contribuir a enriquecer el debate sobre el estatuto jurídico de los animales y su potencial acceso a la personalidad jurídica (por la vía judicial o legislativa), con un enfoque regional y global. Los ponentes pondrán de relieve la situación jurídica actual de los animales en sus respectivas jurisdicciones y comentarán las posibilidades concretas en materia de personalidad jurídica para los animales.
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Legal scholars have recently questioned the so-called great divide between human and non-human animals. While humans are legal persons who have fundamental legal rights, domesticated animals are objects of property rights. This means that humans can use, sell, and kill animals. For this reason, many legal theorists, who argue that animals are worthy of moral considerability, contend that non-human animals should be granted legal personhood so that they are conferred strong legal protections.
In this context, professor Maneesha Deckha recently published the book Animals as Legal Beings: Contesting Anthropocentric Legal Orders. In it, Deckha argues that the reason why animals do not have strong legal protections is that our legal and political systems are anthropocentric, and that even legal personhood is structurally anthropocentric. This leads Deckha to propose a new legal status for all non-human animals that goes beyond the legal personhood-property divide, namely, legal beingness.
In this interview, we will learn about what motivated professor Deckha to write Animals as Legal Beings, what kind of thinkers influenced her, and the most intricate and ground-breaking insights of the book.
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About the Speaker:
Maneesha Deckha is Professor and Lansdowne Chair in Law at the University of Victoria. Her research interests include animal law, critical theory, health law, bioethics, and reproductive policy. Her interdisciplinary scholarship has been funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She also held the Fulbright Visiting Chair in Law and Society at New York University. Professor Deckha currently serves as Director of the Animals & Society Research Initiative at the University of Victoria as well as on the Editorial Boards of Politics and Animals and Hypatia. She is an inaugural fellow of the Brooks Animal Studies Academic Network at the Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law & Policy and is a graduate of McGill University (BA), the University of Toronto (LLB), and Columbia University (LLM).
In recent years, scholars working at the intersection between critical disability studies, postcolonial theory and critical animal studies have argued that the oppression of animals, people with disabilities and Indigenous peoples are interconnected.
The common thread between these oppressions is what Maneesha Deckha calls the paradigmatic human person, that is, an ideal abled-bodied and rational (hu)man subject who is white, “civil,” and autonomous. The field of animal ethics in itself has been structured around the notion of the paradigmatic human person, whose properties are regarded as most valuable morally speaking. It is because humans have properties like reason, autonomy (in a cognitive sense), and human language that more-than-human animals and people with cognitive disabilities have been situated outside the moral circle. Similarly, when British settlers colonised Australia, Australia was regarded as terra nullius (nobody’s land) because Aboriginal peoples were not regarded as “civil” enough, that is, they were not considered as people who inhabited Australia.
Chloë Taylor and Kelly Struthers Montford will walk us through some of these insights and interconnections, and tell us in what ways our political systems are still structured by colonialism, ableism, and anthropocentrism. We will also explore some of the key concepts in the fields of critical animal studies (CAS henceforth), critical disability studies and postcolonial theory (e.g., vulnerability, sovereignty, territory, and dependency), and whether these notions bring to the fore ethico-political dimensions that are often absent in sentientist logics. At the end, we will look at the history of CAS, and try to understand why the aforementioned concepts have traditionally been undermined in this field.
About the Speakers
Chloë Taylor is Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Alberta. She is the author of three monographs and the co-editor of five books. Most recently, she and Kelly Struthers Montford have co-edited Building Abolition: Decarceration and Social Justice (Routledge 2021); Disability and Animality: Crip Perspectives in Critical Animal Studies (Routledge 2020); and Colonialism and Animality: Anti-Colonial Perspectives in Critical Animal Studies (Routledge 2020). Chloë is currently completing a co-authored book with Kelly Struthers Montford, Abnormal Appetites: Agricultural Power, Food Politics, and the Anthropocene (McGill-Queens University Press 2023), and beginning work on a new edited volume, The Routledge Companion to Gender and Animals (Routledge 2023). She is also writing her fourth monograph, Intersections of Animality, and is in the early stages of projects on zoonosis and extinction. She and Vasile Stanescu co-founded the North American Association for Critical Animal Studies.
Kelly Struthers Montford is Assistant Professor of Criminology at X University in Toronto, Canada. Her research bridges settler colonial studies, punishment and captivity, animal studies, and law, and has been published in Animal Studies Journal, the Journal of Food Policy and Law, Radical Philosophy Review, the New Criminal Law Review, PhiloSophia: a journal of continental feminism, and the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, amongst others. Kelly is the co-editor of two Critical Animal Studies collections that were published in 2020 with Routledge: Disability and Animality: Crip Perspectives in Critical Animal Studies (with Stephanie Jenkins and Chloë Taylor), and Colonialism and Animality: Anti-Colonial Perspectives in Critical Animal Studies (with Chloë Taylor). With Chloë Taylor, Kelly is the co-editor of a recently published volume, Building Abolition: Decarceration and Social Justice (Routledge 2021).
Organised by the Animals and Biodiversity Think Tank programme and hosted by the Global Research Network, we are happy to offer a live viewing of the documentary entitled “Rhino People”. It is based on research from the Exeter Anthrozoology as Symbiotic Ethics (EASE) working group and funded by National Geographic, under their call “Making the case for nature”. This follows up on our activities in relation to July’s focus on wildlife trade, species extinction, and environmental and wildlife crime.
The documentary comes in three short parts, each utilising a different approach to discourage the support of the illegal rhino horn trade. The aim is to bring the research of the documentary’s creators (listed below) to the wider public through both viewing the documentary and discussing with the creators themselves during the Q&A that will follow, to raise awareness of rhino horn poaching and the personal impacts it has on the rhinos and those who care for them. The documentary was primarily created to be viewed by those who may buy or consume rhino horn. A further aim is therefore to offer a space for discussion on the impact the film had on attendees, as well as how individuals may be able to have a meaningful impact in supporting the dissuading of rhino horn consumption and buying.
As part of the Global Research Network, the Think Tank programme on Animals and Biodiversity works to fulfil its aim of organising meaningful events and related projects, as well as provide resources concerning animal studies, using an interdisciplinary, international perspective. These efforts include sharing updates on current and upcoming events, as well as publishing a wide range of resources that are relevant to each month’s theme, including working papers, blog posts, publications, and recommended readings. Monthly events often take the form of roundtables, workshops, a Conversations series, and interviews.
Professor Samantha Hurn
Samantha Hurn is Associate Professor (Anthropology), Director of the Exeter Anthrozoology as Symbiotic Ethics (EASE) working group, and Programme Director for the MA and PhD Anthrozoology programmes at the University of Exeter. Sam has researched and published on trans-species interactions in diverse contexts including street dog management in Romania; rhino poaching in South Africa; eco-tourism in South Africa and Swaziland; animal agriculture in the UK; non-traditional companion animals; and her most recent research, funded by the Society for Companion Animal Studies, is concerned with finding ways to better support childhood experiences of disenfranchised grief following the loss of companion animals.
Dr Fenella Eason
Fenella is an Associate Lecturer at the University of Exeter, and a member of EASE, the Exeter Anthrozoology as Symbiotic Ethics working group. Her 2017 PhD in Anthrozoology was an ethnographic study of symbiotic practices of care performed by co-existing human–canine partnerships in the field of scent detection and chronic illness; this was later published as a Routledge monograph. Other interests lie in the consequences of companion animal death on conspecifics and human caregivers, and in further understanding non-invasive, pain-free multispecies biomedical interventions and experiences. Duties and practices of care for rhino were notable during the National Geographic-funded project in which Fenella and colleagues travelled through South African game reserves to interview and film wildlife veterinarians and conservationists, rhino orphanage administrators and anti-poaching unit members, all of whom are physically and emotionally involved in endangered rhino protection and in preventing their violent death for the illegal intercontinental rhino horn trade.
Dr Kate Marx
Kate Marx is currently a strategic communications manager for WWF, having previously overseen campaigns and social research for water conservation NGO, Waterwise. She graduated with a PhD in Anthrozoology from the University of Exeter in 2018, after which she joined the EASE (Exeter Anthrozoology as Symbiotic Ethics) group for a year, where she was part of the 'Rhino People' research team. Kate lives in Surrey with her rescue dog, Honey.
Dr Andrew Mitchell
Andrew’s key research interests lie in the areas of human-animal relations, science and technology studies, archaeology and material and visual culture. Having worked in the British film industry as a director of photography, camera operator and stills photographer for many years, Andrew uses visual methods as part of his research practice and is also the founding Director of the Visual Lab at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, where he teaches several courses.
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