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Towards Animal Justice - Texts by Maneesha Deckha


Marshalling feminist and postcolonial insights, as well as critical animal studies, Maneesha Decka theorizes a new legal category, namely beingness, as better able to protect animals from exploitation and value animals for who they are and to move toward justice for animals.

Abstract from "The Save Movement and Farmed Animal Suffering"

M Deckha, “The Save Movement and Farmed Animal Suffering: The Advocacy Benefits of Bearing Witness as a Template for Law” (2019) Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law 77-110

This paper critically analyzes the practices and legal regulation of the growing global phenomenon of the Save Movement, a (human) social movement directed at bearing witness to and raising awareness of the suffering of animals brutalized in intensive farming. Save activists typically hold vigils as animals are transported from the warehouses in which they were raised to their deaths in a slaughterhouse. Through the lens of feminist relational theory and critical animal legal studies, the paper considers the benefits of the Save Movement for farmed animals as well as the capacity of the law to participate in the act of bearing witness to farmed animal suffering that the movement advocates. I argue that bearing witness is not only a productive activity for animal advocates to engage in, but also serves as a model for how the law can respond to animals. Put differently, I argue that the law should strive to bear witness to animal suffering, and that this subversive and partly socially subjectifying move for animals can occur even in the present anthropocentric legal culture where animals are legal property and clearly non-subjects.

Abstract from "The "Pig Trial" Decision"

M Deckha, “The “Pig Trial” Decision: The Save Movement, Legal Mischief, and the Legal Invisibilization of Farmed Animal Suffering” (2018) 50:1 Ottawa Law Review 65-98

In the summer of 2015, animal activist and Toronto Pig Save co-founder Anita Krajnc gave water to a pig on a transport truck, an action that eventually led to her prosecution for criminal mischief. The trial that ensued attracted international media coverage and yielded the judgment in R v Krajnc in May 2017. R v Krajnc is exceptional for an array of reasons that compel its close analysis. In terms of the defence counsel's novel legal arguments in favour of farmed animals, and the consideration of these arguments by the court as reflected in the written judgment, the case is unparalleled in Canada and worldwide. Defence counsel highlights the pigs' sentience, sociality, and subjectivities in order to contest their propertied status and demonstrate their suffering as farmed animals, as well as advance arguments that expose the multiple detrimental impacts of industrial animal farming on people and the planet generally. When we consider these features and know that Krajnc was acquitted, it seems that the case is a clear "win" for animal advocates seeking to disrupt the discursive representations of animals within the farmed animal system. To the contrary, this paper argues that the judgment instead legally reinforces what Yamini Narayanan calls the "invisibilization" of farmed animals. This legal invisibilization occurs through the court's short-circuiting of multiple opportunities from the defence's submissions to express concern over the treatment of animals in confinement farming, or recognize their vulnerability or suffering. Specifically, the decision adopts implicit and explicit anthropocentric assumptions (that could have been avoided and were not inevitable, even allowing for the legal status of animals as property) and expresses a cavalier attitude to the suffering of the pigs. In other words, the judgment implicitly takes the normativity of industrial farming, instead of the vulnerability and suffering of animals, as a generative departure point. This position minimizes the gravity of the violence farmed animals endure, but also stigmatizes non-normative views regarding the treatment of farmed animals, and reinforces farmed animals non-subject status in the colonial settler legal order.


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