Political animal voices

Eva Meijer | The view that nonhuman animals cannot be political actors because they cannot speak is common in both philosophical tradition and political practice. This view seems to be false in two respects. It refers to a flawed conception of political agency and, second, it ignores the fact that animals clearly do communicate, with each other and with humans. Seeing animals as mute does not simply reflect a misunderstanding of their capacities: it is interconnected with the way humans have defined language and politics and has led to rendering animals silent as a political group.

The aim of this project is to develop a theory of ‘political animal voice’. I will do this by developing and integrating accounts of a) political animal agency, b) animal languages and human-animal communication, and c) (new) political institutions. In developing these accounts, the project integrates insights from political philosophy (including poststructuralist and posthumanist analyses of power and language), philosophy of language, phenomenology, and different fields of animal studies, such as animal ethics, ethology and animal geography. Although my main goal is to provide a philosophical theory of political animal voice, the project also aims to conceptualize political animal voice on a practical-political level, both in addressing the entanglement of politics and language in relation to animals, and in developing a method of thinking with animals.