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Dolphins have names. Prairie dogs speak about humans. Bees deliberate. Bats gossip. Whales sing love songs that last over twenty hours. Cows speak about their emotions with one another. Studies in biology and ethology show that nonhuman animals have their own languages and communicate with humans in many ways, but they are still considered to be mute in philosophy, many cultures and political systems. In this talk Eva Meijer will argue that this is a political problem, which is connected to their position in society. Power relations determine who gets a chance to speak, and what counts as language. But what animals say also matters with regard to forming better social and political relations with them. Their voices need to be included in existing political institutions and practices for democratic reasons and we need to develop new political institutions and practices with them. Listening is an important part of this project.
Eva Meijer is a philosopher and writer. Meijer works as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam (NL), on the four-year research project The politics of (not) eating animals, supported by a Veni grant from the Dutch Research Council, and at Wageningen University and Research (NL) in the project Anthropocene ethics: Taking animal agency seriously. She is the chair of the Dutch study group for Animal Philosophy. Recent publications in English include When animals speak. Toward an Interspecies Democracy (New York University Press 2019), Animal Languages (John Murray 2019) and The Limits of my Language (Pushkin Press 2021). Meijer wrote thirteen books, fiction and non-fiction, her work has been translated into over twenty languages. More information can be found on her website: www.evameijer.nl
This lecture is free and open to the public. Thanks to the Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law and Policy for their generous support of this lecture series.