Animal Capital: Rendering Life in Biopolitical Times by Nicole Shukin

By Nicole Shukin

The juxtaposition of biopolitical critique and animal studies—two matters seldom theorized together—signals the double-edged intervention of Animal Capital. Nicole Shukin pursues a resolutely materialist engagement with the “question of the animal,” hard the philosophical idealism that has dogged the query via tracing how the politics of capital and of animal existence impinge upon each other in marketplace cultures of the 20th 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 concurrently to cultural applied sciences and economies of mimesis and to the carnal company of boiling down and recycling animal continues to be. Rendering’s lodging of those discrepant logics, she contends, indicates a rubric for the serious activity of monitoring the biopolitical stipulations and contradictions of animal capital around the areas of tradition and economy.

From the animal capital of abattoirs and autos, motion pictures and cell phones, to pandemic worry of species-leaping illnesses reminiscent of avian influenza and mad cow, Shukin makes startling linkages among visceral and digital currencies in animal existence, illuminating entanglements of species, race, and exertions 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)

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Lest its own motivated labor of making connections between symbolic and carnal economies of capital be fetishistically erased by the appearance that they are simply revealed, the critical practice of rendering needs to vigilantly foreground its own articulatory power. 86 INTRODUCTION [ 29 ] Animals in Theory Two rich veins of poststructuralist thought have played a particularly influential role in the proliferation of theoretical engagements with “the animal” in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

80 Distortion disrupts what Debray calls a telecom model of “painless transmission”81 by routing the semiotic vector of an animal sign through a material site of rendering, for example, diverting film’s time-motion mimicry of animal physiology through the carnal space of the abattoir (see chapter 2), or the animal signs in a Canadian telecommunications ad campaign through neocolonial bushmeat and war economies (see chapter 3). 82 As a model of immanent critique, distortion resists privileging either literal or rhetorical sites of rendering as truer vantage points from which to reckon with animal capital, emphasizing instead that both are effects of power.

Cinema communicates, in other words, by means of affective transference in the form of the spell-binding gaze between animal and human that Derrida describes as an animalséance. ”140 To idealize affect as animal is, almost by definition, to naturalize it, deflecting recognition of affect as a preideological means and effect of power. As Jennifer Harding and E. ”142 Like Deleuze and Guattari, Grossberg differentiates between emotion and affect. Emotion, for Grossberg, is “the product of the articulation of two planes: signification .

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