Book review in ‘Academische Boekengids’

The Dutch Academische Boekengids (‘Academic Book Review’) published a short review by Koen Beumer and myself in its November issue on the recent ‘Bats Sing, Mice Giggle. The Surprising Science of Animals’ Lives’ by Shanor and Kanwal with the title ‘Achter het spiegelraam van de biologie’ (‘behind the reflective window of biology’). The magazine is circulated among Dutch academic staff and readers of Vrij Nederland and readers of Dutch can find it here. We used the metaphor of the reflective window to expose a paradoxical relation between animals and humans that is reflected in these authors’ discourse. Ostensibly, they stress correspondences between human and animal lives, which not only should bring them closer together but also prove useful for man’s survival in nature. Yet at the same time, the authors refrain from drawing ethical conclusions from such correspondence. Instead, animals feature very much as objects of research, surprisingly similar yet distanced by a scientific and technical gaze – in effect setting man apart from these natural origins.