Chapter

Bestia Sacer and Agamben's Anthropological Machine: Biomedical/Legal Taxonomies as Somatechnologies of Human and Nonhuman Animals’ Ethico-Political Relations

Robin Mackenzie

in Law and Anthropology

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199580910
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723025 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580910.003.0019

Series: Current Legal Issues

 Bestia Sacer and Agamben's Anthropological Machine: Biomedical/Legal Taxonomies as Somatechnologies of Human and Nonhuman Animals’ Ethico-Political Relations

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This chapter shows how Giorgio Agamben's anthropological machine not only deploys ascriptions of animality in order to include or exclude humans, but also assigns apparent similarities with, and differences from, humans, in order to subject nonhuman animals to judgements of worth and entitlement. It deploys the figuration of bestia sacer, as a mirrored other of Agamben's homo sacer, in order to argue that the anthropological machine provides a means of determining who counts, and who does not, for all animals, whether human or nonhuman. Through providing answers to the question of who is like whom, who is not, and why and how this matters, it produces rationales for practices of inclusion and exclusion tailored to circumstance. The chapter concludes by suggesting that bestia sacer, the excluded nonhuman animal, is contained not only in zones of exception outside the protection of the law, but exists also within neo-liberal citizens.

Keywords: Giorgio Agamben; bestia sacer; anthropological machine; human animal; nonhuman animal

Chapter.  18679 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Law

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