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The Cannibal-Animal Complex in Melville, Marx, and Beyond

By Greg Pollock

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It has become axiomatic for a number of philosophic, political, and technoscientific research agendas that the categories “human” and “animal” do not mark a rigorous division. It is equally axiomatic that they continue to function strategically in the distribution of power. This essay aims to thicken the genealogy of the post-human (or post-animal) moment by looking at two concepts caught between liquidation and enforcement of the human-animal border: cannibalism and Marxist economic critique. Cannibalism, because if we are all in some sense “animals” we find ourselves wary of eating our kin, yet anxious about the way that “cannibalism” has been historically entwined with Euro-American imperialism. Marxism, because it often leverages itself implicitly or explicitly against an animal incapable of labor, class struggle, and history, and yet it suggest that capital erases the ontological privilege of the human. 

Date 2010
Publication Title Humanimalia
Volume 2
Issue 1
Pages 9-31
ISBN/ISSN 2151-8645
Publisher Depauw University
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animals in culture
  2. Cannibalism
  3. Consumption
  4. Foods