Animal laws and the politics of life: Slaughterhouse regulation in Germany, 1870-1917

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What makes modern law and politics modern ? What makes the question of "modernity" so central to our understanding of contemporary law and politics? To offer one possible answer to these questions this study examines the changing relationship between animals and humans and, more specifically, the new regulation of the slaughterhouse in turn of the century Germany. If humans and animals meet in the modern agora it is neither because animals are now perceived as more human-like, as champions of progress would have it, nor because humans are perceived as more animal-like, as critics of modernity would suggest. Rather, both animals and humans have undergone a radical transformation, which has put them on the same plane. If life is that which humans and animals share in common, and politicsis that which sets them apart, the history of animal laws suggests that modernity entails the radical transformation of both life and politics. This Article strives to understand this change through the transformation of both politics and life into processes, i.e., into that which can be scientifically known and thus manipulated. The different strategies of reformers of slaughtering as well as their opponents are analyzed in light of this fundamental transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-250
Number of pages30
JournalTheoretical inquiries in law
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2006


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