The 2020 ASCA Award Committee, consisting of Julian Isenia, Patricia Pisters and meLê Yamomo, gave the ASCA Book Award to Eva Meijer for her book: "When Animals Speak: Toward an Interspecies Democracy". New York: NYU Press, 2019. 304 p.
In When Animals Speak, Eva Meijer presents a trailblazing theory of interspecies politics through her critique of epistemology centered on language that is exclusively human. She claims that “in order to adequately address anthropocentrism, we need to redefine language in and through interaction with non-human animals.” In lucid, flowing prose, Eva elegantly interweaves various threads of philosophical, political, and scientific thoughts in arguing the agency of non-human animals to speak and act politically. She draws from Wittgenstein’s concept of ‘language games’ to reconceptualize interspecies communication. She examines the idea of non-human animals and human political communities within the current discourse proposing citizenship and sovereignty for non-human animals. Eva presents the two case studies of Olli, the Romanian stray dog, and the goose-human conflict around Schiphol Airport; by placing emphasis on their non-human animal perspectives and agencies, she examines political practices beyond anthropocentrism. Such consideration unravels new logics in how we may reformulate legal and political practices in labor rights, habitat rights, and urban planning.
When Animals Speak impels us to reexamine our relations with other animals, by highlighting the importance of the inclusion of their voices as the starting point for a new interspecies democracy. At its core, Eva argues that “while rights and other human inventions can be important stepping stones towards better relations, they cannot be the final goal. It is not up to humans to come up with a full political theory into which other animals fit; to do so would be to repeat anthropocentrism. Just relations can only ultimately come into being through interaction with other animals.”