Ashley Drake

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Ashley Drake is currently a graduate student in Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. She writes:

I received a grant that allowed me to be able to explore the recent surge of interest in animals and animal rights, particularly with respect to how animal rights political parties deal with the challenges of representing nonhuman animals in the political arena. This project specifically examined how the Dutch Partij voor de Dieren (Party for the Animals or PvdD) works to provide political representation for animals in the Netherlands. Unable to internalize social norms, nonhuman animals, we presume, have experiences that cannot be captured through standard conceptualizations of human subjective experience and viewpoints that cannot be neatly fitted into human legal, political, and ethical schemes. Despite this obstacle, political parties like the Party for the Animals are working to represent animals as potential subjects of justice. Data from research collected in the Netherlands provided essential material for the current draft of a journal article that explores how the PvdD works to extend principles of basic justice, entitlement, and law to nonhuman animals by treating them as participants in the broader ethical community. In this piece, I examine the various techniques used by members, volunteers, and elected officials to “give animals a voice” in the Dutch legal system. I have also presented results from this research at two conferences. My current research interests focus on our relationships with nonhuman others and I recently finished collecting data in Texas on the affective relationship or bond formed between military working dogs and their human handlers.