An interview with Dr. Eva Meijer about her book “Animal Languages.”
I recently read Dr. Eva Meijer’s book called Animal Languages. And it resonated with many of her important messages about how animals communicate with one another and with us. Part of the book’s description reads, “Is language what sets humans apart from other animals, as many have argued? Or do animals speak in their own languages, to each other and to us? In Animal Languages, Eva Meijer explores the latter possibility…Talking with animals forces us to challenge the hierarchy of humans and other animals, and suggests a new way of thinking about language.”
I wanted to know more about what Eva had to say about animal languages, and I was pleased she could take the time to answer a few questions about her more inclusive view that includes a variety of nonhumans. Our interview went as follows.
Why did you write Animal Languages?
In my PhD thesis—published as When Animals Speak—I developed a philosophical theory of political animal voice. It is often assumed that nonhuman animals do not use language or act politically—and these capacities are interconnected, in philosophical theory and political practice—but empirical research shows they do. Also, who does or does not speak is not a neutral question, but rather the outcome of unequal power relations. In When Animals Speak, I investigate how animals speak and act politically, why humans should take this into account, and how we can begin to build new political relations and even interspecies communities with them.