Trans-species Listening and Rights of Nature: Legal Persons beyond the Human

October 5, 2018
9:30 am to 4:30 pm
Rubenstein Library Breedlove Room 349

The legal traditions of liberal democracy and human rights relied on the exceptionalism of the human whether derived from rationality, the soul, or the “dignity of man.” These notions originated in the entanglement of Christian notions of the human with the formation of the secular sphere in Europe and spread across the world to define a global political configuration often termed “modernity.” Rapid and unprecedented ecological changes, however, shone light on the insufficiency of a regime of rights restricted to humans. Simultaneously, the recognition of the devastating impact of colonization on indigenous peoples sparked a global movement to grant rights to these communities and drew attention to the diverse ways indigenous communities related with non-humans. While the first non-humans to receive recognition as legal persons may have been corporations, the “rights of nature” extend the recognition of legal persons to rivers, mountains, and non-human animals. This workshop aims to think about the global rights of nature movement by transcending the assumptions of modernity and listening not only across human cultures but also across species.