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Zoogenesis: Thinking Encounter with Animals

By Richard Iveson


The “question of the animal,” as it has become known, is central—both strategically and in-itself—to contemporary philosophy and politics, and in my thesis, Zoogenesis: Thinking Encounter with Animals, I seek to further explore the ongoing deconstruction of the human-animal dichotomy. Therein I argue that, if we are to stall the genocidal machine by which various bodies are reproduced as “killable,” the reinscription of other animals within the domains of philosophy, ethics, and politics remains essential. The interruption of this murderous logic is of the utmost importance, not only for other animals, but also for all those millions of “other” humans who find themselves excluded by the regulatory norms of gender, sexuality, race, and/or class. \ud \ud Divided into five parts, and engaging with writers as diverse as Nietzsche, Derrida, Butler, Plato, Heidegger, Kafka, Blanchot, Rancière, William S. Burroughs and Bernard Stiegler, I explore the notion of an originary technicity of being within ever broader levels of analysis. Beginning with the apocalyptic zoo-genesis of an “animal encounter” which exceeds every determinable form, I then consider “improper” tropes which function in the opposite direction to the genocidal theatrics of “animalisation,” calling forth instead forbidden place-holding metonymies which hold open the space of invention itself. From there, I trace the implications of the “zoogenetic demand” through the various overlapping domains of ethics, responsibility, nationalism, community, and biotechnology. This demand, I argue, requires a necessarily exorbitant ethics of the unrecognisable other—of an excessive hospitality from which nonhuman animals cannot be excluded—and without which the privileging of the white Western heterosexual male is inevitably reinforced. In conclusion, I argue that it is excessive mutability which constitutes both the promised posthumanism of vigilant betrayal and at once the poisonous threat of a collapse into absolute nihilism—a pharmakon which must ever again be renegotiated

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