Benjamin MeichesAug 7, 2023
Animal Interventions in Global Politics
University of Minnesota Press 2023
Both critical and mainstream scholarly work on humanitarianism have largely been framed from anthropocentric perspectives highlighting humanity as the rationale for providing care to others. In Nonhuman Humanitarians: Animal Interventions in Global Politics (University of Minnesota Press, 2023), Dr. Benjamin Meiches explores the role of animals laboring alongside humans in humanitarian operations, generating new ethical possibilities of care in humanitarian practice.
Nonhuman Humanitarians examines how these animals not only improve specific practices of humanitarian aid but have started to transform the basic tenets of humanitarianism. Analyzing case studies of mine-clearance dogs, milk-producing cows and goats, and disease-identifying rats, Nonhuman Humanitarians ultimately argues that nonhuman animal contributions problematize foundational assumptions about the emotional and rational capacities of humanitarian actors as well as the ethical focus on human suffering that defines humanitarianism.
Dr. Meiches reveals that by integrating nonhuman animals into humanitarian practice, several humanitarian organizations have effectively demonstrated that care, compassion, and creativity are creaturely rather than human and that responses to suffering and injustice do not—and cannot—stop at the boundaries of the human.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.