2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

In Search of an Alternative Biopolitics

Anti-Bullfighting, Animality, and the Environment in Contemporary Spain

Katarzyna Olga Beilin

Transoceanic Studies


LITERARY CRITICISM / European / Spanish & Portuguese LITERARY CRITICISM / General
344 pp. 6x9

$83.95 cloth 978-0-8142-1290-5
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Table of Contents


In Search of An Alternative Biopolitics offers a compelling look into a highly controversial issue in contemporary Spain: that of the cultural management and mediation of human versus nonhuman relationships. Combining animal studies and an environmental approach to scrutinize the symbolic dimension of Spain’s so-called ‘national fiesta,’ this book will be of interest to scholars of Hispanic studies, cultural studies, ecocriticism, and animal studies.” —Luis Martín-Estudillo, University of Iowa

“Beilin argues that Spain provides an important model for understanding not just cruelty to animals, but, by extension, other injustices related to bioethics, the politics of life, and ecology. This book is the first to take an animal studies perspective as its point of departure in the examination of contemporary Spanish literature and culture.” —John Beusterien, Texas Tech University

In Search of an Alternative Biopolitics: Anti-Bullfighting, Animality, and the Environment in Contemporary Spain by Katarzyna Olga Beilin takes readers on a journey through the history of alternative thought that challenges mainstream understandings of the relations between the human and nonhuman realms. Weaving through the works of Mariano José de Larra, Eugenio Noel, Luis Buñuel, Luis Martín-Santos, Pedro Almodóvar, Pablo Bérguer, Juan Mayorga, and Rosa Montero, Beilin convincingly demonstrates that “the question of the animal” has long been of particular significance for Spanish culture.

Analyses of the synergy of press debates on bullfighting and the War on Terror, as well as media debates on King Juan Carlos’s hunt in Botswana and his resignation, reveal how the concepts structuring human/animal relations condition national biopolitics. Beilin traces a main principle, where sacrifice of some lives is deemed necessary for the sake of others, from bullfighting, through environmental destruction and immigration policies, to bioeconomy. Ultimately, In Search of an Alternative Biopolitics argues that to address ever-increasing threats of global warming and future catastrophes, we urgently need to redefine concepts structuring the human and the nonhuman realms.

Katarzyna Olga Beilin is a Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and a Faculty Affiliate at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is the author of Del infierno al cuerpo: Otredad en la narrativa y cine peninsular contemporáneo and Conversaciones literarias con novelistas contemporáneos.