Animals as Legal Beings: Contesting Anthropocentric Legal Orders

By Maneesha Deckha

© 2020

In Animals as Legal Beings, Maneesha Deckha critically examines how Canadian law and, by extension, other legal orders around the world, participate in the social construction of the human-animal divide and the abject rendering of animals as property. Through a rigorous but cogent analysis, Deckha calls for replacing the exploitative property classification for animals with a new transformative legal status or subjectivity called "beingness."

In developing a new legal subjectivity for animals, one oriented toward respecting animals for who they are rather than their proximity to idealized versions of humanness, Animals as Legal Beings seeks to bring critical animal theorizations and animal law closer together. Throughout, Deckha draws upon the feminist animal care tradition, as well as feminist theories of embodiment and relationality, postcolonial theory, and critical animal studies. Her argument is critical of the liberal legal view of animals and directed at a legal subjectivity for animals attentive to their embodied vulnerability, and desirous of an animal-friendly cultural shift in the core foundations of anthropocentric legal systems.

Theoretically informed yet accessibly presented, Animals as Legal Beings makes a significant contribution to an array of interdisciplinary debates and is an innovative and astute argument for a meaningful more-than-human turn in law and policy.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 348 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.2in x 1.0in x 9.3in
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  • PUBLISHED JAN 2021

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    Regular Price: $34.95

Quick Overview

In the ongoing quest to protect animals from exploitation, this book discusses "beingness," as an alternative to "personhood," as the more impactful and animal-centered legal status that recognizes and values animals for who they are.

Animals as Legal Beings: Contesting Anthropocentric Legal Orders

By Maneesha Deckha

© 2020

In Animals as Legal Beings, Maneesha Deckha critically examines how Canadian law and, by extension, other legal orders around the world, participate in the social construction of the human-animal divide and the abject rendering of animals as property. Through a rigorous but cogent analysis, Deckha calls for replacing the exploitative property classification for animals with a new transformative legal status or subjectivity called "beingness."

In developing a new legal subjectivity for animals, one oriented toward respecting animals for who they are rather than their proximity to idealized versions of humanness, Animals as Legal Beings seeks to bring critical animal theorizations and animal law closer together. Throughout, Deckha draws upon the feminist animal care tradition, as well as feminist theories of embodiment and relationality, postcolonial theory, and critical animal studies. Her argument is critical of the liberal legal view of animals and directed at a legal subjectivity for animals attentive to their embodied vulnerability, and desirous of an animal-friendly cultural shift in the core foundations of anthropocentric legal systems.

Theoretically informed yet accessibly presented, Animals as Legal Beings makes a significant contribution to an array of interdisciplinary debates and is an innovative and astute argument for a meaningful more-than-human turn in law and policy.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 348 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.2in x 1.0in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    Animals as Legal Beings is an excellent piece of scholarship, well written and highly readable. Maneesha Deckha offers a clear theorization of animal legal subjectivity using ‘beingness’ as her core theoretical value and notes the limitations or unanswered puzzles related to her theorization.”
    Anna Grear, School of Law and Politics, Cardiff University

    “Maneesha Deckha has emerged as a leading voice in law scholarship which crosses animal, feminist, and postcolonial studies. This book offers a new contribution to thinking about animals as legal subjects beyond the current impasse between personhood and property. Deckha’s innovative approach proposes a new third status - ‘beingness’ - representing an original attempt to solve a practical dilemma.”
    Dinesh Wadiwel, School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of Sydney

    “Animals as Legal Beings is an impressive new contribution to research and theory. Its breadth is astonishing; Maneesha Deckha is well versed across traditions and theorists. The book’s engagement with complex theory is detailed and sensitive to nuance. It is an important contribution to critical thinking about law.”
    Margot Young, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia

    "Finally! – a comprehensive analysis of animal law that does not rest upon anthropocentric liberal assumptions, but instead advocates for ‘beingness’ as a new legal subjectivity for animals. A must-read for anyone who cares about more-than-humans."


    Irus Braverman, Professor and William J. Magavern Faculty Scholar, The State University of New York at Buffalo

    "Animals as property or animals as persons? This dichotomy has consumed scholars debating the legal status of animals. Esteemed feminist and post-colonial scholar, Maneesha Deckha breaks through this dichotomy with her argument that animals should occupy the novel legal category of ‘beingness.’ Her conclusions land in surprising places and must be confronted by anyone seriously concerned with the legal status of animals."


    Dale Jamieson, Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, and Director of the Center for Environmental and Animal Protection, New York University
  • Author Information

    Maneesha Deckha is a professor and Lansdowne Chair in Law at the University of Victoria.
  • Table of contents

    Moving Toward a Non-Anthropocentric Legal Status for Animals

    1. No Escape: Anti-Cruelty Law’s Property Foundations
    2. What’s Wrong with Personhood?: The Humanizing Impact of Anthropos
    3. Toward a Post-Anthropocentric Legal Ontology
    4. Beingness: A New Legal Subjectivity for Animals
    5. Liberal Humanism Repackaged?
    6. Conclusion

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