Nimmo, R. (2020). Foucault, Power, and Nonhuman Animals, Society & Animals, 28(7), 835-838. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/15685306-00001845
Matthew Chrulew & Dinesh Joseph Wadiwel (Eds.), Foucault and Animals (Human-Animal Studies). Leiden: Brill, 2017. 396 pp.
In their timely and well-curated collection, Matthew Chrulew and Dinesh Wadiwel (2017) succeed in their difficult aim of providing readers with a grounding in the complex intersection of Michel Foucault’s philosophy with human-animal studies. The publication reflects and augments the increasing interest in the usefulness and implications of Foucault in a still-emerging field in need of conceptual resources to more deeply expound upon its key questions and dilemmas. In this sense, the book’s main readership will be made up of human-animal studies scholars of all levels with an interest in power, knowledge, and ethics. It may also appeal to some Foucault scholars engaged with the posthuman turn and interested in exploring what new light may be cast on his work if it is read through the prism of species, animality, and the nonhuman. The collection is admirably interdisciplinary, with contributors from literary studies through the humanities to the social sciences. Each author contributes either explicitly or more obliquely to the overarching question of how and to what extent Foucault’s philosophy might be drawn upon to consider some aspects of human-animal relations. Chrulew and Wadiwel also consider a range of relationships such as those developed in labs and agriculture. While some of the essayists occasionally resort to theorizing about nonhuman animals or animality in general terms, several are explicitly critical of this tendency, and most focus on particular species in particular times, places, institutional and epistemic contexts, and relations of power.