Amid the debates about the status of animals in western civilization, one 'truth' about them remains relatively unchanging in contemporary legal thought: animals are merely personal property. But, in other times and places, animals have been understood differently. They have variously been conceptualized as ensouled, rational, or existing for reasons quite apart from their 'use' to humans. Can a new truth about animals ever emerge again, so that they are understood as something besides property? This Foucaultian critique of thought about animals examines the 'truth' about animals as merely an historical contingency, variable according to the conditions that have allowed the production of that 'truth,' and certainly one that could change. The contemporary emergences of numerous animal studies programs in academia may signify that such a change in power-knowledge is afoot – one that may resurrect a new truth about animals from discourses that have long been subjugated.
- The Essential Political Problem
- Contemporary Discourses about Animals
- On Blindness to Being
- Parallelisms (Or, the Changeable Nature of Knowledge)
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Lisa Johnson is an Associate Professor at the University of Puget Sound, USA, where she teaches law, ethics, environmental law, and animals and the law.