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Book Review

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Book Review, Animal Welfare, Animal Rights, Legal Beings, Nonhuman Animals


Scholarship on animal rights has long been dominated by the widely held idea that justice for nonhuman animals will not be achieved until they are granted legal personhood. In Animals as Legal Beings: Contesting Anthropocentric Legal Orders, Maneesha Deckha provides an alternative legal classification for nonhuman animals. “Beingness,” rooted in relational feminism, post-colonial theory, and critical animal studies, recognizes nonhuman animals’ inherent value, while avoiding some of the downsides to legal personhood, namely, its embeddedness in the imperialist liberal individualism that characterizes western legal systems. Given its anthropocentric nature, personhood must be displaced as the aspirational classification for animals. Beingness is a “new legal subjectivity” that Deckha theorizes is a “solution to evading the impasse that currently encapsulates the core debate in animal law circles”— that is, the debate between animal welfare and animal rights.


Author's manuscript of book review published in the Canadian Journal of Women & the Law, University of Toronto Press. Published version can be found at