Historical Social Research

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Svenja Ahlhaus & Peter Niesen: What is Animal Politics? Outline of a New Research Agenda [Abstract]

Animal Politics, i.e. the study of human-animal relations in Political Theory, is a relative newcomer to the portfolio of Animal Studies. While other academic disciplines, from Cultural Studies and Moral Philosophy to History, Sociology and Law, have all established highly visible branches of Animal Studies in recent decades, Political Theory has struggled to carve out a distinctive approach. In this contribution, we identify five features highlighting the fact that human-animal relations are conceived from within Political Theory, distinguishing Animal Politics from Animal Ethics and Animal Rights. Animal Politics is concerned with the political subjection of humans and animals (1) and with the existence, nature and justification of animals’ coercive claims (2). It discusses the political inclusion of animals in human polities and the claims of ‘sovereign’ animal collectives (3). Animal Politics develops normative designs with a view to their practical, non-ideal realisation (4), and, finally, reflects its own status as a body of discourse within democratic societies (5). In the final part of the contribution, we present the contributions to this HSR Forum.

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