Yoriko Otomo - After Persons, Animism, Animals and Law
(En anglais seulement) This lecture critically examines a current tendency in human-animal, critical animal studies and social anthropology to look towards the ‘animism’ of indigenous communities as an alternative to the dominant ontological and legal distinction between ‘person’ and ‘thing’. It contributes to an ongoing conversation hosted by McGill Faculty of Law on legal personhood, and to a broader conversation about the ethics of global governance. I first describe how ‘animal personhood’ is relevant to a discussion about legal personhood in general. I then look at the current jurisprudence on the granting of personhood to non-human entities and animals, explaining the tensions this produces for law more generally. The final part of my talk reflects on the ‘ontological turn’ in human-animal studies in recent years, including the temptation to transpose this approach to the courtroom. In my conclusion, I will suggest an alternative – perhaps radical – way forward in our ongoing efforts to make global governance fit for purpose.
Yoriko Otomo is a Research Associate at SOAS, University of London, where she was a Senior Lecturer for a number of years before becoming Director of the Global Research Network and Think Tank, an organisation that promotes collaboration and knowledge transfer between North-South academics. She holds a Ph.D in Law (University of Melbourne) and has received numerous fellowships and awards. Yoriko has authored Unconditional Life: The Postwar International Law Settlement (Oxford University Press, 2016) and co-edited Law and the Question of the Animal: A Critical Jurisprudence (Routledge, 2014) and Making Milk: The Past, Present and Future of Our Primary Food (Bloomsbury, 2017) and is currently co-editing Routledge's Handbook on Law and Animals (forthcoming, 2024). Recent interdisciplinary projects include a collaboration with architects on a permanent installation for the Court of Aarhus in Denmark, 'Silent Parties'. Alongside academia, she has undertaken international environmental law consultancies over the last two decades for U.N., NGOs and government bodies. Her current research tries to go beyond critique to suggest practical ways of transforming current environmental law discourse.