Maneesha Deckha holds the Lansdowne Chair in Law at the University of Victoria`s Faculty of Law, where she leads the Animal and Society Research Initiative. She works at the intersection of animal, feminist and postcolonial law. However, a new legal subjectivity is not without its challenges. Deckha admits that his alternative to traditional legal conceptualizations of animals “confronts the difficult and little-theorized problem of `line drawing` between animals, as well as between animals and other non-humans” (p. 143). For example, would plants be considered as such? Or. The first part of the book focuses on the two dominant discourses in animal law: the animal rights activist and the abolitionist. Welfare-focused discourse calls for a shift across the existing paradigm of the animal as property. Through a review of Canadian anti-cruelty jurisprudence, Deckha shows that “property status plunges animals into a legal abyss that anti-cruelty laws have not been able to improve” (p.
76). While the four anti-cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code are generally understood to provide protection from harm and focus on promoting the best interests of animals, they are in fact distorted in the best interests of the owner. To illustrate is the test of “unnecessary suffering”, “naturalized human superiority and animal instrumentality” in the main case, R. v. Ménard,1 (p. 55), thus erasing any sense of cruelty outside of anthropocentric justification. The law considers the interests of animals as secondary to those of the owner and intervenes in situations of social deviation by “making animal suffering attributable only in extremely narrow circumstances” (p. 75). In an ongoing quest to protect animals from exploitation, this book discusses “being” as an alternative to “personality” as the more effective and animal-centered legal status that recognizes and values animals for who they are.
Dinesh Wadiwel, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney: “Maneesha Deckha has become a leading voice in jurisprudence, crossing animal, feminist and postcolonial studies. This book offers a new contribution to the reflection on animals as legal subjects beyond the current impasse between personality and property. Deckha`s innovative approach proposes a new third status – “being” – and represents an original attempt to solve a practical dilemma. In the second part of the book, Deckha puts forward his new solution: a new legal subjectivity of the being that bears neither the imprint of exploitative property nor the anthropocentrism of personality. “Being would undermine the traditional representation of who counts in the law” (p. 121) through its main constituent elements of incarnation, relationality and vulnerability. Being is based on feminist theory and considers embodied difference as central to subjectivity and crucial for social change. This means that animals are synonymous with their bodies and are not stigmatized due to cognitive or physical differences. Anna Grear, Faculty of Law and Politics, Cardiff University: “Animals as legal beings are an excellent science, well written and very readable. Maneesha Deckha offers a clear theorization of the legal subjectivity of animals using “being” as a theoretical fundamental value, and emphasizes the limits or unanswered mysteries associated with their theorization.
The being also turns to relationality3, which displaces individualism rooted in the understanding of modern legal subjectivity, so that the law can reflect on how animals actually live. Taken together, embodiment and relational ability reveal the susceptibility of animals4 to evil and violence. Deckha`s concept of being would promote awareness and force legal responses to suffering. How can we transform our anthropocentric and colonialist legal system to better explain systemic violence against animals in Canada? Maneesha Deckha addresses this issue in her book Animals as Legal Beings: Conchallenging Anthropocentric Legal Orders. In Animals as Legal Beings, Maneesha Deckha critically examines how Canadian law, and thus other jurisdictions around the world, are involved in the social construction of the human-animal divide and the pathetic portrayal of animals as property. Through a rigorous but convincing analysis, Deckha calls for replacing the classification of farm ownership for animals with a new transformative legal status or subjectivity called “being.” The legal systems in America and Canada treat animals as property, a designation that ignores their subjectivity, autonomy and ability to suffer. But making it a legal entity, some proponents suggest, would create their own problems because the category is a human-friendly category that requires animals to behave, think, and be in a way they can`t. Maneesha Deckha, author of Animals as Legal Beings: Conchallenging Anthropocentric Legal Orders, suggests a solution: to grant animals a new legal status, the “being” that exists outside the person-property dichotomy. In this lecture and question-and-answer session moderated by Doug Kysar, Co-Director of the LEAP Faculty, Professor Deckha will explore her work on being and other representations of animals in the legal system. In this lecture, Maneesha Deckha presents the argument in her new book from the University of Toronto Press with the same title.
It calls for a non-anthropocentric reorientation of Canadian law and other Western legal systems by criticizing their treatment of animals as property, but also by criticizing personality as an appropriate animal-friendly substitute. Instead, the book, which summarizes feminist and postcolonial ideas as well as critical animal studies, theorizes a whole new legal category, namely being better able to protect animals from exploitation and value animals as they are. Professor Deckha`s presentation will describe this new concept and describe how the foundations of anthropocentric legal systems will otherwise have to change to move towards justice for animals. “Animals as property or animals as people? This dichotomy has consumed scientists to debate the legal status of animals. Maneesha Deckha, a respected feminist and postcolonial academic, breaks this dichotomy with her argument that animals should take the new legal category of “being.” Their conclusions lead to surprising places and must be confronted with anyone serious about the legal status of animals. By developing a new legal subjectivity for animals that is designed to respect animals for who they are and not for their proximity to idealized versions of humanity, Animals as Legal Beings seeks to bridge critical animal theories and animal law. Deckha draws on the feminist tradition of animal care as well as feminist theories of incarnation and relationality, postcolonial theory, and critical animal studies. Their argument criticizes the liberal legal view of animals and is directed against a legal subjectivity of animals that pays attention to their embodied vulnerability and wants an animal-friendly cultural shift in the fundamental foundations of anthropocentric legal systems. “Finally! – a comprehensive analysis of animal law, which is not based on anthropocentric liberal assumptions, but advocates “being” as a new legal subjectivity for animals. A must for anyone who cares more than people. Abolitionist discourse seeks to remedy the propertization of animals through the attribution of personality. However, Deckha problematizes this approach and shows that it is an “inherently exclusionary category” (p.