Ansikte mot ansikte. Om etiska kortslutningar i mötet mellan människor och apor – och om skönlitterära motarbeten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The modernisation of human civilisation demands sacrifices of other species for work, food, clothing, medical research, space exploration – and human self affirmation. To enable the asymmetrical relations, a hierarchical dualism between Man and Animal has been constructed and is maintained by a mechanism of continual differentiation. My aim in this article is to consider how literary fiction may take part in the denaturalisation of this mechanism, named by Giorgio Agamben as the ”anthropological machine”. For this purpose I highlight five different meetings between apes and humans, as narrated in Swedish novels from the last decades, and analyse them from an ethical and animal discourse point of view. My readings demonstrate how literature can call acute attention to the recurrent human blockage of the face of the animal other, and to the emotional unsettlement evoked by this act. Hereby, I argue, the human/animal divide is put into question as a relevant basis of ethical decision.


  • Amelie Björck
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • Human–animal studies, apes, animal ethics of encounter, contemporary literature, anthropological machine, carnophallogocentrism
Original languageSwedish
Issue number2013:1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2013
Publication categoryResearch

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