Eva Meijer

Winner Dissertation Prize 2018

Political animal voices.

Supervisor: Prof. dr. H.Y.M. Jansen
Co-supervisor: Dr. R. Celikates
Nomination: University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Humanities

Report of the Selection Committee

This book analyses how we can place the animal in the field of politics today, using not only cultural analysis but also linguistic, political and behavioural-observation methods. Animal language and ‘animal politics’ are topical subjects and much literature has appeared on both, but the connection between the two subjects makes this dissertation highly original. It is also a very rich thesis in the way it connects different themes and approaches to different perspectives – linguistics and language philosophy, ethology, political theory, participatory research (communication between humans and other animals). The case studies are also provocative (especially ‘Worm politics’, with a big wink to Frans de Waal’s ‘Chimp politics’). Her plea for goose/human deliberations at Schiphol is fascinating, while the case of the writer’s relationship with a Romanian stray dog opens up unsettling questions from a familiar area. The dissertation is a treasure trove: it frames animal language in language game framing, discusses animal agency and politics à la Kymlicka and Donaldson, and ends with nothing less than an argument for multispecies deliberation.

The jury deems this dissertation to be highly original, internationally significant and well written. The book goes beyond a case by reframing habitual language in a way that will appeal to non-specialists. The book shows the daring and flair of its writer. It tickles us, bites and barks at us. The jury also praises it for its exceptional balance between the creative and the analytical.