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240 × 165 × 22 mm
192 pages
22 illustrations
12 Oct 2020

Loving Animals On Bestiality, Zoophilia and Post-Human Love Joanna Bourke

Sexual contact with non-human animals is one of the last taboos but, for a practice that is generally regarded as abhorrent, it is remarkable how many books, films, plays, paintings and photographs depict the subject. In this book renowned historian Joanna Bourke explores the history of human-animal sexuality and examines how the meanings of the words ‘bestiality’ or ‘zoophilia’ have changed. Are people who are sexually attracted to non-human animals psychiatrically ill, or are they normal people who happen to have a minority sexual orientation? How are we to understand human-animal love, as well as other issues within the discourse surrounding sexuality, such as violence, consent and abuse?

This book draws queer theory, post-human philosophy, disability studies and the history of the senses into the debate to ask, what would an ethics of animal loving look like? What does it mean to love non-human animals? More pertinently: what does it mean to love?

‘This bold and imaginative book is thoughtful and – inevitably – provocative. With characteristic compassion and insight, Joanna Bourke undertakes a tour de force of historical and cultural attitudes towards human-animal relations to guide us through serious ethical and political questions concerning sexuality, power and consent.’ — Julie-Marie Strange, Professor of Modern British History, Durham University

‘In this courageous book, Joanna Bourke combines scholarship and clear prose to tackle head-on one of our most stigmatized taboos—sexual relations between humans and nonhumans. In doing so, she provides an illuminating perspective on a subject too often swept under the rug. Even if so-called zoophilia were a rare aberration, it ought to be addressed. That it is far more widespread than commonly believed justifies the need for thorough, contemporary examination.’ — Jonathan Balcombe, author of 'Super Fly' (2020)

‘Joanna Bourke’s post-anthropocentric approach to human–animal love and lust is a remarkable and much-needed contribution to both queer studies and animal studies. She offers a critical and thorough analysis of the joys, hopes and dangers of intimacy with the most vulnerable of all lovers – animals.’ — Monika Bakke, Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań

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Joanna Bourke is Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London. Her many books include What it Means to be Human (2011).


1 The Law
2 Cruelty to Animals
3 Mad or Bad?
4 ‘Zoo’ Communities
5 ‘Z’ or Post-Human Love

Photo Acknowledgements