Maneesha Deckha, "Animals as Legal Beings: Contesting Anthropocentric Legal Orders" (U Toronto Press, 2021)


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In Animals as Legal Beings: Contesting Anthropocentric Legal Orders (University of Toronto Press, 2021), Maneesha Deckha critically examines how Canadian law and, by extension, other legal orders around the world, participate in the social construction of the human-animal divide and the abject rendering of animals as property. Through a rigorous but cogent analysis, Deckha calls for replacing the exploitative property classification for animals with a new transformative legal status or subjectivity called "beingness."

In developing a new legal subjectivity for animals, one oriented toward respecting animals for who they are rather than their proximity to idealized versions of humanness, Animals as Legal Beings seeks to bring critical animal theorizations and animal law closer together. Throughout, Deckha draws upon the feminist animal care tradition, as well as feminist theories of embodiment and relationality, postcolonial theory, and critical animal studies. Her argument is critical of the liberal legal view of animals and directed at a legal subjectivity for animals attentive to their embodied vulnerability, and desirous of an animal-friendly cultural shift in the core foundations of anthropocentric legal systems.

Theoretically informed yet accessibly presented, Animals as Legal Beings makes a significant contribution to an array of interdisciplinary debates and is an innovative and astute argument for a meaningful more-than-human turn in law and policy.

Akash Ondaatje is a historical researcher focusing on the interconnected lives of humans and animals. He studied at McGill University (B.A. History) and Queen’s University (M.A. History), where he researched human-animal relations and transatlantic exchanges in eighteenth-century British culture through his thesis, Animal Ascension: Elevation and Debasement Through Human-Animal Associations in English Satire, 1700-1820 ( Contact:

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