Theory of Animal Law

University of Helsinki
June 16-18

Keynote speakers: Gary Francione and Saskia Stucki

With a half-day kickoff event: "Climate Change and the Voiceless"
June 16
Keynote by Randall Abate

In a sense, animal law has been around for a long time. The history of legal regulation having to do with the human-animal relationship can be traced back centuries, perhaps even millennia. As an object of academic inquiry, the field is much younger, yet still several decades old. Largely an Anglo-American enterprise at start, scholarly interest and education in animal law have since spread around the world. Meanwhile, global concerns such as climate change and zoonoses have made the field more topical than ever before.

Alas, many foundational questions remain unanswered. Defining the field has proven an elusive affair: what is animal law, exactly? Authors attach the label to more than just one kind of phenomenon. Second, many aspects of animal law remain undertheorized, even if new theoretical approaches are being developed at an increasing pace. Whereas animal law theorizing has traditionally focused on how the legal situation of animals should look like, increasing attention is being paid to the legal situation of animals under the dominant welfarist regime. For instance, work remains to be done in understanding the general principles and central concepts of animal law such as rights, unnecessary suffering, dignity, and so forth.

The conference Theory of Animal Law, organized at the University of Helsinki from 16 to 18 August 2022, will address these and cognate topics. The event seeks to explore the more theoretical aspects of the field of animal law from multiple points of view. As such, we welcome papers from all relevant academic disciplines. Submissions may concern topics including but not limited to:

  • What is animal law?
  • General principles and central concepts of animal law
  • Legal approaches to animal protection
  • Animals and constitutional law
  • The interactions of animal law and environmental law

We invite both individual submissions and panel proposals.

The deadline for abstracts is March 31. The abstract submission form will be added here shortly.

We expect the conference format to be fully in-person.

Limited financial assistance may be available to scholars with no access to travel funds. These will be considered on a case-by-base basis.