Sex, Animals, and the Construction of Subjectivity
This chapter explores the biopolitical function of animal representations by focusing on two seemingly disparate historical and geographical moments: the criminalization of bestiality at the Plymouth Plantation and the bestialization of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. It argues that we must understand the crucial role that animal representations played for the production and negation of biopolitical subjectivity as and at the founding of a legal order premised on colonial violence. It examines bestiality through its historical definition as a synonym for sodomy and as the performance of sexual relations between humans and animals. Although it retains the use of the term “bestiality” for sex acts that cross species lines, the chapter adopts the term “animality” to discuss the structural and representational position that bestiality produces. Animals such as guard dogs can inhabit the position of animality, but they can also take on a mediating function between the structural position of humanity and the position of animality. The chapter locates the birth of American biopolitics in that mediation.
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