By Nicole Shukin
The juxtaposition of biopolitical critique and animal studies—two topics seldom theorized together—signals the double-edged intervention of Animal Capital. Nicole Shukin pursues a resolutely materialist engagement with the “question of the animal,” demanding the philosophical idealism that has dogged the query by way of tracing how the politics of capital and of animal lifestyles impinge upon each other in industry cultures of the 20 th and early twenty-first centuries.
Shukin argues that an research of capital’s incarnations in animal figures and flesh is pivotal to extending the exam of biopower past its results on people. “Rendering” refers at the same time to cultural applied sciences and economies of mimesis and to the carnal company of boiling down and recycling animal is still. Rendering’s lodging of those discrepant logics, she contends, indicates a rubric for the severe job of monitoring the biopolitical stipulations and contradictions of animal capital around the areas of tradition and economy.
From the animal capital of abattoirs and vehicles, motion pictures and cellphones, to pandemic worry of species-leaping illnesses comparable to avian influenza and mad cow, Shukin makes startling linkages among visceral and digital currencies in animal existence, illuminating entanglements of species, race, and hard work within the stipulations of capitalism. In reckoning with the violent histories and intensifying contradictions of animal rendering, Animal Capital increases provocative and urgent questions on the cultural politics of nature.
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Extra info for Animal Capital: Rendering Life in Biopolitical Times (Posthumanities)
And resource economies trafﬁcking in animal remains (the business of recycling animal [ 22 ] INTRODUCTION trimmings, bones, offal, and blood back into market metabolisms). Later chapters elaborate the double sense of rendering in the more affective terms of “sympathetic” and “pathological” economies of power. 68 Taussig recalls James George Frazer’s anthropological study of sympathetic magic in The Golden Bough: A Study of Magic and Religion (1911), where Frazer describes, among other things, how sorcerers of Jervis Island in the South Paciﬁc Ocean manipulate efﬁgies in order to affect the subjects they resemble.
It is by conﬁguring exchange as an animal alterity that precedes and exceeds the historical hegemony of capital that Derrida deconstructs the speciﬁc critique of commodity fetishism and develops a global logic of spectrality in its place. ” Although Derrida starts this essay with a striking encounter between himself as he emerges from the shower and his cat—“a real cat,” he insists, not “the ﬁgure of a cat”118—she quickly dissipates into spiritualistic terms deeply resonant with those Derrida deploys to describe both the becoming-animal of the commodity and the visitation of the ghost of Hamlet’s father in Shakespeare’s play.
The rethinking of ideology as constitutive of social-bodily existence is crucial to the study of animal capital, particularly in light of the conﬂation of “the animal” with the ostensibly pre-ideological realm of the body, instinctual drives, and affect in cultural discourses of the West (something I will return to shortly). 74 It provides a trope for a cultural-materialist analysis that navigates a ﬁne line between reductively materialist and reductively culturalist approaches to the ﬁeld of capital.
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