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Animal Capital

Animal Capital: Rendering Life in Biopolitical Times

Series: Posthumanities
Volume: 6
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Animal Capital
    Book Description:

    The juxtaposition of biopolitical critique and animal studies—two subjects seldom theorized together—signals the double-edged intervention of Animal Capital. Nicole Shukin pursues a resolutely materialist engagement with the “question of the animal,” challenging the philosophical idealism that has dogged the question by tracing how the politics of capital and of animal life impinge on one another in market cultures of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6805-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction New Life Forms and Functions of Animal Fetishism
    (pp. 1-48)

    In 2002,Maclean’smagazine, one of Canada’s oldest national newsweeklies, ran an advertisement configuring the nation as a beaver spread out across the page like a dissection specimen.¹ The beaver’s internal organization is bared to encyclopedic view, with lines spoking out from its interior to labels biologically identifying blood organs and body parts (see Figure 1). The ad caption consists of a few pithy words tacked beneath the splayed sign of the animal: “Maclean’s. Canada. In depth.” The equivalent standing of the two proper names in the caption, “Maclean’s” and “Canada,” positions the media and the nation as virtually synonymous...

  5. Chapter 1 Rendering’s Modern Logics
    (pp. 49-86)

    Michael Taussig opensMichael Taussig opens Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses(1993) with the dizzying scene of “the ape aping humanity’s aping” from Franz Kafka’s short story “A Report to an Academy.”¹ The narrator in Kafka’s story has been invited by the academy to give an account of his former life as an ape captured by Europeans on the Gold Coast. He recalls how, by mimicking his captors, he contrived to become human, thereby escaping his fate as a colonial specimen destined for the Zoological Garden or the variety stage. The ape ends up, instead, a...

  6. Chapter 2 Automobility: The Animal Capital of Cars, Films, and Abattoirs
    (pp. 87-130)

    The birth of Fordism is routinely sourced to the year 1913, when Henry Ford “set in motion the first example of assembly-line production in Dear-born, Michigan.”¹ In citing Ford’s Highland Park plant in Dearborn as North America’s “first example of assembly-line production,” the moving lines that the plant materially mimicked are quietly displaced from historical consciousness. For rarely recalled or interrogated is the fact that Ford modeled Highland Park’s auto assembly line on moving lines that had been operating at least since the 1850s in the vertical abattoirs of Cincinnati and Chicago, with deadly efficiency and to deadly effect.² Ford,...

  7. Chapter 3 Telemobility: Telecommunication’s Animal Currencies
    (pp. 131-180)

    Over the course of the 1780s in Bologna, Italy, an anatomist and obstetrician by the name of Luigi Galvani standardized the practice of inducing electrical reflexes out of severed frog legs to demonstrate his theorem of animal electricity.¹ InCommentary on the Effect of Electricity on Muscular Motion(1791), Galvani claimed that frog muscle was “the most sensitive electrometer yet discovered” (80), albeit one carved out of the flesh of a “headless frog” (27). The doctor’s method of reliably arranging the raw material of his “animal conductors” (31) in a fashion that guaranteed repeatable results to any who modeled it...

  8. Chapter 4 Biomobility: Calculating Kinship in an Era of Pandemic Speculation
    (pp. 181-224)

    In the guerrilla rescue operation composing the opening scene of the movie28 Days Later(directed by Danny Boyle, 2002), British animal rights activists break into a London laboratory to release its captive simian subjects. They find live chimpanzees locked inside glass and metal cages. The only chimp not contained inside a cage is strapped down by its arms and legs onto a medical bed cum sacrificial altar inside a ring of television sets shown incessantly playing and replaying grainy media footage of human executions, violent riots, and wars. Among the cruel experiments to which the lab animals appear to...

  9. Postscript Animal Cannibalism in the Capitalist Globe-Mobile
    (pp. 225-232)

    Globalization popularly connotes a swirlingmise–en–abymeof mobiles inside mobiles, of media inside media. Zooming in from the “globe–mobile”—from an earth that is in its entirety now subsumed, albeit unevenly, by the flows and forces of capital—one narrows in on arteries coursing with automobiles and airplanes carrying subjects who, if they are sufficiently affluent to own a mobile phone, BlackBerry, or personal laptop, can dial up digital connections and virtually spiral back out to the World Wide Web. Yet as the previous chapter suggested, alongside neoliberal promises of effortless auto- and telemobility, globalization also poses...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 233-284)
  11. Index
    (pp. 285-306)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 307-307)