February 24, 2022

Animals and the Unwritten Constitution with Jessica Eisen


A number of jurisdictions around the world now include animal protection provisions in their constitutional texts.  Yet, across these jurisdictions, animals continue to be instrumentalized and killed, especially for food.  How are we to understand the impact of these constitutional provisions?  In this talk, moderated by AJ Hudson (YLS '23), Professor Jessica Eisen will explore the possibility that constitutional texts do not tell the whole story: that many jurisdictions embrace unwritten constitutional commitments to the continued use of animals as killable resources.  The vision of unwritten constitutional principles set out in this talk will open the door to further questions about how constitutions support a range of hierarchical and harmful social arrangements along axes of species, race, gender and coloniality.


Jessica Eisen is an assistant professor of law at the University of Alberta. Her research interests include animals and the law, constitutional and comparative constitutional law, equality and antidiscrimination law, feminist legal theory, intergenerational justice, and law and social movements. She is the author of “Feminist Jurisprudence for Farmed Animals” in the Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law, “Milked: Nature, Necessity, and American Law” in the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law, & Justice and “Animals in the Constitutional State” in I.CON: The International Journal of Constitutional Law.