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Technologies of Life and DeathFrom Cloning to Capital Punishment$
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Kelly Oliver

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251087

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251087.001.0001

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Deadly Devices: Animals, Capital Punishment, and the Scope of Sovereignty

Deadly Devices: Animals, Capital Punishment, and the Scope of Sovereignty

(p.166) Six Deadly Devices: Animals, Capital Punishment, and the Scope of Sovereignty
Technologies of Life and Death

Kelly Oliver

Fordham University Press

Turning to capital punishment exercised on animals, along with Thomas Edison's experimentation on animals that led to the invention of the electric chair, I develop an alternative genealogy of man's moral and legal sovereignty through animal experiments within the penal code. Exploring associations between speculation, spectacle, and the death penalty, I analyze how the animal is central to the history of capital punishment and the sovereignty it secures. If, within the history of philosophy, death and the death penalty have been considered the property of man alone, we will see that the death penalty becomes man's sole property through its exercise on animals. Crucial to the codification of law in modern Europe, the capital punishment of animals proved the scope of Roman law. Thomas Edison's use of animals in the invention of both the electric chair and the first moving images draws an uncanny relationship between spectacle, animals, and the death penalty.

Keywords:   Animals, Derrida, Beast and Sovereign vol I, Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Thomas Edison, The Electric Chair, Lethal Injection, Cruel and Unusual

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