Volume 1, Number 2 - Spring 2010

Michael R. Griffiths

“The Tame from the Wild”: Handling Political Economies of Life at the Emergence of Capital

[I]f Socrates makes the women common, and retains private property, the men will see to the fields, but who will see to the house? . . . it is absurd to argue, from the analogy of animals, that men and women should follow the same pursuits, for animals have not to manage a household. — Aristotle, Politics, Bk. II. (1152)

It presently occurr’d to me,  that I must keep the tame from the wild . . . and the only way for this was to have enclosed some Piece of Ground . . . This was a great Undertaking for one Pair of Hands. — Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (106)

At least since Aristotle, representations of animality in fictions of the economy have skirted the bounds of allegorical and mimetic modes or (to employ a distinction consonant with the old terms of the Great Chain of Being) those of analogy and emulation.1 For Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, animals as living beings must be consigned to the status of “tame” chattel property. They are also relied upon as the bases for economic arguments from the “analogy of animals.” Inscriptions of species difference in such arguments often conceal material origins within genres that appear entirely analogical or allegorical. At times, ironically, scholarly efforts to address human representations of animals consistently risk reducing the animal to a figment of the human imaginary even as the gesture that performs this reduction is itself the product of an ethical imperative. As we all know, the tension between ethics and anthropocentrism has been the subject of much debate in the burgeoning study of non-human animals. The question has been, to a degree vexed and difficult partly because the very study of animality automatically questions the foundations of what people think of as ethics. Ethics then appears as monstrous, but so, too, does the attempt to rethink it beyond the humanist paradigm.

For example, during a roundtable discussion held at the 2008 Annual Convention of the Modern Language Association, entitled “The Future of Animal(ity) Studies,” the conveners provided panelists with a guiding distinction between animality studies—critique of animal representation in human discourse—and animal studies, more directly concerned with the materiality of animal life.2 Although both approaches were taken seriously scholars who identify with the animal studies side of this distinction have at times been dismissive of the anthropocentrism of animality studies, as if the risk implied by the analysis of human discourse necessitated a downfall into anthropocentrism.

Donna Haraway, for instance, has questioned Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction of “the autobiographē of the human species,” arguing that it gives no attention to the material question of actual animals.3 While it may be the case that critical followers of Derrida’s deconstruction of the question of the animal risk a reflexive emphasis on humanism, it does not necessarily follow that address to the animal “outside representation” constitutes the study of a ding an sich beyond the grasp of anthropocentric discourse.4 I do not point this out in order to suggest that the opening of recent theoretical analysis onto empirical study of real animals is not valuable. Taking the material and ethical question of the animal seriously is clearly invaluable. I want to suggest, however, that the relation between the figural and the material by which living things are made subjects or objects is more complex than has hitherto been suggested by those who seek, implicitly or explicitly, to deauthorize the animality studies wing of human-animal studies. In cross-mapping fiction, material events, and philosophical discourse, it becomes clear that allegories of animality are not simply mimetic, though neither are they entirely floating and dereferential. For Richard Nash, animal discourse forms rather “a pre-existing mythological terminology actually shaped by preconceptions and hence perceptions by which real beings were observed and recognized by Europeans” (Wild Enlightenment 3). One could say, for instance, that “real beings” do not pre-exist enlightenment humanist representational economies with their “mythological terminology.” The task of disentangling this relation between real and imagined, allegorical and ethically immediate already opens onto a further double bind, since such  a task immediately faces both the specific historic context of an allegory’s inscription and apparently distinct philosophical and ethical stakes that inevitably refer to the immediacy of the present.

One sees in my opening epigraphs a distinction between tame and wild animals in Defoe that is highly reminiscent of Aristotle’s distinction between forms of property in the fields and in the house—in other words a distinction that crosses the human and the non-human, as well as the gender, race, and citizen status of the inhabitants of a territory. Such figuration also organizes and is reorganized by the shifting categorizations of real beings that traverse the overlapping discourses of taxonomy and political economy. Considering the economic and religious changes that lead to the rearticulation of these categories, one finds that classical forms of subjection and economic categorization are both retained and rearticulated within enlightenment humanist discourse.

In Aristotle’s Politics the taxonomy of living beings schematizes the management of non-living things in the household and those in the fields—at the farthest reaches of dominion. This “absurd” analogical praxis continues through the modern era. One key distinction that will be retained in Britain as late as Daniel Defoe’s 1720s operatively divides chattel property from the family property system of the landed. The designation of chattel property is never limited to actual “cattle,” nor is the mysterious space of the house made up only of the family—those inhabiting the dominion of a pater familius. Such ambivalences in the categorization of life demand multiple genealogies. Here, my explication of these ambivalences and transformations will be anchored around a reading of Robinson Crusoe since this text can be read not only as an event in the history of English literature—for instance, in what Ian Watt has famously called the rise of the novel—but also in that of political economy.5 Mining Crusoe’s futurity, one easily uncovers numerous examples of this curious travelogue’s influence on the rhetoric of political economy. Robinson’s isolation on his island will come to hold a paradigmatic importance for Jean-Jacques Rousseau.6 Marx also famously observed that “Robinson Crusoe’s experiences are a favorite theme with political economists” (Capital 47). And this is to name but two well known examples.

The advent of Robinson Crusoe in enlightenment intellectual history connects the emergence of property with that of biopolitics. By referring to the concept of biopolitics in a discussion that began with Aristotle I mean to invoke Michel Foucault’s famous contention that while “[f]or millennia, man remained what he was for Aristotle: a living animal with the additional capacity for political existence; modern man is an animal whose politics places his existence as a living being in question” (History 144). While such critics as Nash and Phillip Armstrong have addressed the importance of Robinson Crusoe to the study of non-human animals in enlightenment discourse, it is life’s transforming place in the discourses of value that I examine in this essay. While I deploy my argument with reference to contemporary contexts, I aim to implicate such eighteenth-century animal representation in an emergent biopolitical economy with a series of ethical and political consequences for the history of the present that concern humans and non-humans alike. The elusive taxonomy of species and value one finds in Crusoe will remain all the way to the present, making one aware of the unwieldy basis of the economy of the living and the non-living, human and non-human, person and thing. Economic allegories of tameness and wildness cross the species divide and they do so through a concept of property that is always, on some level, metaphoric. As Gilles Deleuze has argued, for David Hume at least, “nature is the principle of resemblance and uniformity” produced within the empirical human subject that emerges at the twilight of the renaissance (Empiricism 47). For Hume it is “property” that “engenders and develops inequality” and the rules produced by this regime of property “will be the object of political economy” (op. cit. 51). Following nineteen years on the heels of Robinson Crusoe’s first appearance, Hume’s sense that humans are the product of a social constructionism rooted in property reveals an instance of what Robert Marzec has called the “syndrome” of Robinson Crusoe as it is carried into the nineteenth- and twentieth-century intensification of the private.

Nonetheless, since the present essay aims to further far-reaching assertions about the economic form of life’s subjugation, any risk of anachronism must be explained and defended. I began with Aristotle because of the strange similarity between his early division of the things of the fields from those of the house and a division that I will identify in Defoe’s text. Nonetheless classical economy is not modern capitalism. Animality and slavery are not transcendent Platonic universals but are produced and reproduced within the discursive structure of a given system of power—what Foucault called a social apparatus, or dispositif.7 This is to say, that shared schematism does not apply a historically transcendent biopolitics, but one whose vicissitudes rely (at least in part) on modern forms of economics, which is to say: the rise of imperialism and capitalism. So, while invoking a historical comparison, I want to emphasize that I am wary of transplanting the Aristotelian economy of man, woman, slave, and animal across geographically or temporally distinct contexts. I prefer to stress the way continuities (as well as breaks) have continually recurred in economizations of life. Whereas followers of the earlier Foucault have been wary of the risk of economism, Giorgio Agamben has recently observed that “[t]he Latin term dispositio, from which [Foucault’s] French term dispositif, or apparatus, derives” also etymologically connects to the “semantic sphere of the theological oikonomia” (Apparatus 11). The study of biopolitics can benefit a lot from examining the economics of the dispositif of enlightenment humanism, its antecedents, and legacy.8

Defoe had manifestly espoused his assent to the connection between economic dominion and the divine ordering of species difference when he wrote in The Review that without “the subjection . . . to the useful part of man” of “the useful part of creatures . . . tame, docile, tractable, and submissive,” humans would be overrun by “the less needful part . . . left wild and at war with us” (qtd. in Armstrong 44),  Were this the case, he asserts, “what would it give to trade, what a universal stop to all manner of commerce!” (ibid.).  As an influential early eighteenth-century figuration of animal property, Robinson Crusoe reflects and portends shifts in the dispositif by which forms of life would come to be assigned value in the enlightenment.

Handling Animality and Biopolitics. In making these claims about the intersection of animal allegory, political economy, and biopolitics through a reading of Defoe’s text, it is necessary to recall certain recent critiques of humanism that center around the biopolitics of the figural hand and situate them next to the hand’s place in early eighteenth-century thought. The use of animals as metaphors for kinds of property has lurked in the margins of a number of recent and influential critiques of humanism. Derrida famously linked the metaphor of the hand with the epistemology of the sacrificial structure of enlightenment humanism, or, carnophallogocentrism. In deconstructive terms, this epistemology of distinction focuses on Heidegger’s retention of the hand as a mark of humanist thought, particularly à propos the exclusionary potential it retains within his destruktion of humanist metaphysics.9 Cary Wolfe has argued that the hand in this philosophical genealogy is but one in a series of signs of species difference.10

Ann Van Sant has argued that Defoe’s subversion of the “hierarchy of head and hand” in Crusoe reflects the Georgic revolutionary reintroduction of “a long tradition supported by authority from both Greek and Latin antiquity” (121). Van Sant notes the coincidence in Crusoe’s figural hands of usages which place Lockean labor alongside exaltations of power and sovereignty. In Van Sant’s account, the discursive unwieldiness of human social hierarchy exceeds both the terminology of earlier intra-aristocratic emphasis on status and emergent hierarchies of socioeconomic class distinction. Van Sant concludes by insisting that the oscillation of the hand between categories of difference and hierarchy shows “the persistence of the concept of a status-based society well after social and economic relations had ceased being governed by status” (132). However Van Sant’s account does not triangulate these claims about discursive shifts between class and status with the formation of the human. This is surprising since Derrida, Haraway, Wolfe, Armstrong, and Nash, in varying ways show animality to be a central enlightenment hinge. For Derrida, this transformation forms in the late eighteenth century and will root itself in the phenomenology that follows. “There is,” Derrida remarks, “a Kantian hand, and there will be a Husserlian hand and a Heideggerian hand . . . which will have traits in common but do not overlap” (On Touching 149). Bringing Derrida’s contention into dialogue with Van Sant’s, we could assert that there is also an early-eighteenth century hand that manifests through Locke’s and Defoe’s texts and connects economics and the body. In light of the Derridean critique of humanualism, the hand’s privileging of certain labor forms in early eighteenth century economic thinking entails not only distinctions among human socio-economic categories (class, status), but, I will argue, traces an emergent nexus of species and race-based differentiations, for which economic distinctions cannot be disentangled from perceived biological and ontological forms of life (185).

Recent discussions of biopolitics have emphasized the relation between the body and its foundational character for modern notions of property. Stressing the corporeal dimensions of Lockean property, Roberto Esposito points out that the extraction of individualism from a monotheistic Commonwealth hinges on the foundational coincidence of the body and property.11 Lockean individualism founded in the “property in [one’s] own person,” is corporealized through its prosthetic mode of extraction—“the labour of [the] body and the work of the hands” (Locke 287). Esposito connects the hand to property through a discussion of Kant’s introduction of liquidity to political economy via the continued persistence of the figural hand as its support. In Kant’s conception, property need not be literally held in hand in order to be individualized—that is, justified as an individual possession. For Kant, the hand’s absenting from direct connection to property becomes the underpinning of moveable goods and of the pecuniary by extension (Esposito 69). Since, as Van Sant has argued, Defoe’s text subverts the primacy of mental over manual labor, Defoe’s text must also reposition the conditions under which beings are made the subjects of power. However, as revealing as it is, the biopolitical character of political economy, and the status of animal bodies is not apparent within the textual trajectory that Esposito traces from Locke to Kant. Through a semiotics of animality’s relation to the hand and body of the sovereign, Defoe’s text repositions Lockean notions of sovereignty, property, and liberty. It behooves one to note that the relative tameness of animals, as well as the relatively economic practices of non-Europeans was initially subject to the relative ability or inability of Europeans to show sympathy to other forms of life. As Deleuze notes, sympathy is not a phenomenological given but, as was recognized by Defoe’s eighteenth-century contemporary, Hume, takes form according to the social apparatus that produces it, which is to say at that time, political economy (Empiricism 37-54). As Hume further emphasized, “society is in the beginning a collection of families” (op. cit. 39).

Production: Pecuniary Chattels and the Figure of the Goat. As Armstrong has suggested, the preponderant influence of Cartesian thought meant that European travelers normatively assumed that non-humans and non-Europeans alike could not easily be grasped conceptually. However they could certainly be grasped and commodified via the hand of homo oeconomicus (17-22). The incarceration of life by the “Hand” is always already an act of detention, as at the moment when, “in a great undertaking for one Pair of Hands,” Crusoe breeds up a “He-Goat . . . tame as one of the Kids . . . to supply myself with Goat-Flesh . . . [so] perhaps I might have them about my House like a Flock of Sheep”(RC 106). Kant’s detentio is property without the necessity of possession, whereby “I possess it, although I have laid it out of my hand, and wherever it may lie” (Armstrong 13). Crusoe’s detention of his goats anticipates Kant’s humanualist assertion, showing the reliance of early colonial adventures on this humanist political economy of the confinement of non-humans.

Shortly after enclosing his goats in this way, Crusoe steps back to survey the order of his kingdom of non-human subjects, remarking on his status as his “Majesty the Prince and Lord of the whole Island” (RC 108). He then begins to enumerate the roles of the various subjects around his table:

Poll, [Crusoe’s parrot] as if he had been my Favourite, was the only one permitted to talk to me. My Dog who was now grown very old and crazy, and had found no Species to multiply his Kind upon, sat always at my Right Hand, and two Cats, one on one Side the Table and one on the other, expecting now and then a Bit from my Hand, as a Mark of special Favour. (RC 108)

Where are the goats once Crusoe and his “little family sit down to dinner” (RC108)? Where are the goats whom Crusoe has painstakingly bred and housed—beginning with the first Kid whom he “sav’d” alive from his “Dog” (RC 81, 105-107)? What is the meaning of the absence of cattle—and therefore, chattel—animals from this scene of a family made up entirely of non-humans? As Armstrong notes, only the first goat finds itself in the family circle (41). Crusoe takes pity only on the first exceptional goat which “became so loving, so gentle, so fond, that is became . . . one of my Domesticks also” (RC 82).

One can identify the liminal statuses of the animals in Crusoe’s dominion by noting historical and biographical resonances, for instance, the connection between Crusoe and his “real-life avatar, Alexander Selkirk,” a castaway who was rescued from Juan Fernàndez Island several years prior to the publication of Defoe’s book (Armstrong 13). Yet the mimetic sources for Crusoe are an explanatory means and not an exhaustive end. Selkirk, who according to the first published account of him “tam’d some wild Goats and Cats”(RC 230)—was doubtless a source for Defoe. But, as Nash puts it, “beyond the already well-travelled ground of the Selkirk-Crusoe affinity,” the implications of the interspecies castaway narrative can be deciphered through reading practices beyond the biographical and mimetic. Since “both islands and their animal populations (particularly goats) carry special significance” for enlightenment models of economy and taxonomy (Nash 67). As Nash reminds us, “[t]he goats that populated Selkirk’s island refuge, and which Crusoe domesticates, represented in eighteenth-century natural history a liminal creature between wild and tame, savage and domestic” (87).

The solitary human at table, Crusoe excitedly observes, “How like a King I din’d” (RC 116). This performance of sovereignty over his little family follows the goat’s domestication and the banishment of its offspring to the compound.12 The narrative trail left by goats in Defoe’s text leads back to the earliest classical division of dominion—between the things of the family and those of the fields.13 As Ian A. Bell observes, Lockean thought of dominion conditions Defoe’s figuration of Crusoe’s sovereignty. The etymology of dominion finds its root in domus, the home. In the Leviathan, Hobbes reinvigorated the connection between dominion and property, insisting that: “[t]hat which in speaking of goods and possessions is called an owner, and in Latin dominus . . . The Right of possession, is called Dominion” (218). If one foregrounds the slippage between the microscopic family dominion of Crusoe’s experiment, and the impersonal connection with territory over which the sovereign casts his gaze, we arrive at an aporia that fails to manageably separate Crusoe’s paternal power over property and his Sovereign power—the wider sense of Dominion.

As was the case for Aristotle, in Defoe’s allegory dominion, sovereignty, and paternal power are not discrete but are rather connected by a metonymic displacement. As Michel Foucault rightly notes, the metaphoric relation between family and state will come to recede into a custodial power over subjects, which, in Defoe’s allegory, are non-human.14 Bell argues that while Friday is called a slave, his relation to Crusoe also borders on the status of an autonomous subject. In Robinson Crusoe, the goat functions as the prototype for the chattel slave whose value is coincident with its conditions of life.15 This is why the first captured kid must be nursed: made to live by the sovereign rather than let die in order to be rendered manageable (RC 105).16 Not only is the goat taxonomically liminal, it is immediately connected to Europe’s outside, “the proliferating goats . . . [call] out for the civilizing touch of European cultivation” (Nash 83). As Alfred Crosby notes, Spanish, Portugese, and English maritime travelers used Atlantic islands as stations for replenishment in the long voyages to the New World and around the Cape of Good Hope. For this reason, these explorers made a practice of seeding these islands with familiar species, for instance in the Canaries, as they conquered each isle “[t]hey ‘Europeanized’ their island, importing species of Old World plants and animals” (Crosby 94). As Nash argues by reference to William Dampier’s journal, “in the various accounts that inform Defoe’s narrative, European species (rats, cats, and goats in particular) explode on Juan Fernàndez” (Nash 79),  to figure the global replication “of versions of Europe” (Crosby 89).

The carnophallogocentric structure in Derrida’s sense emerges in the logic of slave and chattel subjectivity—a metaphorics of consumption troubled by this Gordian Knot of parallel subjugations. Before he has fully tamed and nursed his Kid in the realm of res familius, Crusoe asks God’s blessing for this meat he has placed his labor upon through hunting—recalling the primal scene of non-European (“Indian”) labor in Locke’s Second Treatise (RC 91).17 Crusoe rhetorically invokes the tension between individualism and commonwealth, asking “[c]an God spread a Table in the Wilderness?” (RC 94). Such ritual expenditure begins to take on an increasingly outmoded role in the novel, as Crusoe better encloses his land and fixes the property forms designating the subjects in his compound. Prior to Friday’s emergence as “slave,” the “Savage People who sometimes haunted this Island” produce for Crusoe the specter of humanualist economy’s primitive other through “Print of a Man’s Foot” (RC 126). In response to the foot, Crusoe immediately accelerates his handy work of enclosing his compound, “that I might not fall into the Hands of the barbarians” (RC 125). The attempt at global self-replication that Crosby identifies with early modern European expansion can also be read in Derrida’s terms as the “globalatinization” of religious and economic thought of property (Cosmopolitanism 32).

This cross-cultural Christianization of economy recalls the degree to which, as Agamben noted, Foucault’s narrative of the emergence of apparatuses of subjection is closely connected to the “theological oikonomia” in monotheistic logics of economy. In more recently translated writings on biopolitics, Foucault connects such apparatuses of control over life as the science of population with the rise of capitalism. For the later Foucaultian genealogy, the sovereign’s direct connection to the wealth of the state recedes, yet his power over his subjects functions increasingly through the management of subjects via population modeling—a form of power consonant with the emergent imperative to avoid the direct governance of markets.18 As property becomes private, it refuses the common logic that referred to the divinely guaranteed sovereign. Yet sovereignty’s multiplication of biopolitical projects nonetheless refers to its subjects as forms of life with economic potential.

In the Politics, Aristotle distinguishes such instruments of production as the sowing shuttle—which facilitates a limited number of tasks—from instruments of action. Aristotle designates the “slave” a living possession, capable of instrumentality but possessed of potential to act only qua instrument (BW 1135-37). What Aristotle withholds from the slave is not potential [potenza], but the dynamic form of potential [dynameia]. For this reason, Aristotle says the slave has no autonomy: no capacity for reflective action. The distribution of kinds of property relies at once on their spatial orientation—whether through detentio or in proximity to the hand—and the related division of forms of life by their varying potentials.

Defoe’s text stands at the hinge of the two key breaks in Foucault’s genealogy. Crusoe is at once sovereign of a kingdom—guarantor of the wellbeing of his subjects—and father in dominion of these same subjects, their direct owner. Crusoe’s goats display neither dynamic potential, nor the related autonomy ascribed to companions like the parrot. Crusoe’s cats, as I have said, receive the expenditure of “special favours” from his hand, while nonetheless remaining simultaneously subjects and property. Yet these little things of the family are not property in the sense Aristotle ascribed to a sowing-shuttle, nor are they mere instruments of use and exchange. The absent goats are more particularly chattel property than the difficulty to classify cats, who receive special favor, or the parrot who speaks.19 Defoe’s sacrificial economy renders the goat a “living Magazine of Flesh, Milk, Butter and Cheese” (RC 111). Following Derrida, we might say that the carnophallogocentric structure of consumption and sacrifice is allegorized through the goat’s reduction to a “living magazine.” The liminal taxonomic status with which the goats are shackled foregrounds not only the limits Nash saw in eighteenth-century natural history, but also limits in the related rethinking of property’s mobility.

As it is figured in Crusoe, such globalatinization of the sacrificial economy is a reiteration of the Aristotelian distinction between domestic and agrarian property, which forms a basic tenet in Roman Law through the distinction between res familia and res pecunia. For Marcel Mauss the Roman economics of “things” was subject to a binary based on a primary spatial distinction that founds roman law (nomos).20The material resonance of the distribution of animality in space is clear for the nature of the distinction wherein “things were of two kinds. A distinction was made between familia and pecunia, between the things of the household . . . and the cattle subsisting in the fields, far from the stables” (Mauss 49). For Locke, the hand facilitated property grounded in the body’s immediate labor—“the work of the hands.” But Crusoe’s initial work of enclosure, he has established the detentio of the goats, which renders them movable property no longer reliant on the hand. Through the manual, Crusoe facilitates the feeding of the bit to cats, the “mark of special favor.” In approaching animals, manual labor is something from which the master of dominion is increasingly removed. We can find the same logic in the Roman legal system from which it is derived:

A distinction was also made between the res mancipi and the res nec mancipi, according to the forms of sale. As regards the former, which are made up of precious things, including immovable goods and even children, no disposal of them could take place save according to the precepts of the mancipatio, the ‘taking (capere) in hand . . . The things that did not fall under the mancipatio are precisely the small livestock in the fields and the pecunia, money, the idea, word and form of which derived from cattle and sheep. (49-50)

The res familia creatures most properly inhabit the proprietary sphere of the house, where the goats enclosed in the compound are pecunia creatures: a “living magazine” capable of producing further fungible goods. Within Crusoe’s dominion, but banished from his family dinner, the goats can be owned without being in proximity of the hand and can be exchanged readily and fungibly. Crusoe’s goats are both res pecunia and res nec mancipatio.

Within this order, the goat is not born, but made pecuniary by “the work of Hands.” Afterward, the hand becomes an increasingly symbolic mechanism of labor. If we continue to take Robinson Crusoe as at once an allegorical musing on forms of animal property and an event in the history of political economy, then the vicissitudes of the goat foreground the text’s exemplification of this initial proprietary distinction in the state of nature (where, as Marx points out, exchange is always potential) (Marx 47-50). Crusoe’s domination of goats allegorizes the transformation of forms of life—be they goats, or slaves—into forms of property. As such, Goats must be made immobile and incapable of escape, ironically in order for them to become the most dispensable (and therefore mobile) instantiation of living property. Towards the end of Crusoe’s diary, he notes:


Dec. 27. Kill’d a young Goat, and lam’d another so as that I catch’d it, and led it Home in a string; when I had it Home, I bound and splinter’d up its Leg which was broke, N. B. I took such care of it, that it liv’d, and the Leg grew well, and as strong as ever; but by my nursing it so long it grew tame, and fed upon the little Green at my Door, and would not go away: This was the first time that I entertain’d a Thought of breeding up some tame creatures, that I might have Food when my Powder and Shot was all spent. (RC 56)

Within the structure of narration the first goat on the island is rendered chattel and pecunia through the nursing function of Crusoe’s hands, even as this function also carries out the laming of the animal to prevent its escape. Res pecunia is a structural position within which potential for instrumentality is attained through the sovereign’s custodial adaptation of the health and wellbeing of the body. By the time of the dinner of Crusoe’s “little family,” this process has progressed to facilitate the absence of the goats from his grasp.

Reproduction is crucial to this process of rendering life subject to exchange. Crusoe’s final act “of conjuring” in relation to his island is to send wives back from England to his pagan subjects.21 Some animals can be bred, others cannot. Crusoe’s dog, for instance, the not-quite-companion, is to die without progeny. The goats, on the other hand, are capable of producing useful exchangeable offspring. The production of such pecuniary items by the husbandry of goats is also necessary to the luxurious feast at the house—its enabling condition. Shortly after Crusoe has, for the “first time . . .  entertain’d a Thought of breeding up some tame Creatures,” he writes in his diary, “Jan. 3. I began my Fence or Wall; which being still jealous of my being attack’d by some Body, I resolved to make very thick and strong” (RC 76). Despite the apparent absence of other humans, Crusoe’s act of breeding goats necessarily entails the effective origination of enclosed land but not all of Crusoe’s experiments with the breeding of living subjects proceed as efficiently.

Consumption and the Family: Domesticating the Cat. Describing his little family’s history, the castaway introduces the strange pedigree of the cats:

The two Cats which I brought on Shore at first . . . were both of them dead, and had been interr’d near my Habitation by my own Hand; but one of them . . . multiply’d by I know not what Kind of Creature . . . [T]wo which I had preserv’d tame, whereas the rest run wild in the Woods, and became indeed troublesome to me at last. (RC 108)

Where the goats refer to a pecuniary system of exchange, the cats refer to a confused religious economy. Each animal codes a different aspect of the globalatinization, in Derrida’s terms, of economic forms. As Mauss notes, the etymology of the notion of res familia implies a privileged category of life where ownership is linked to gift-giving and religious sacrifice. Mauss observes that the survival of the sacral principle of the gift is coded in the etymology of the Latin word res (thing).22 The same Roman Legal form is preserved in the European feudal property system of domination and sovereignty:
the nexum, the most ancient form of contract in Roman law, is already separated from the substance of collective contracts and also from the ancient system of gifts that commit one…Things [according to this conception of nexum] are not the inert objects that the law of Justinian and our own legal systems conceive them to be. First they form part of the family: the Roman familia includes the res, and not only people  . . .  The best etymology of the word  familia is without a doubt that which compares it to the Sanskrit dhaman, “house.” (Mauss 49)

Thus, the family and its things were afforded a privileged place in the domestic space of the Roman nexum. Similarly, Crusoe’s domestic creatures possess, if not subjective autonomy, a privileged symbolic relation to the master through their very poverty of instrumentality: the parrot who speaks, the dog who sits at one’s right hand, the luxuriating cats who receive the “special favor” of the sovereign’s “Hand” a ‘Bit’ now and then.

In Locke’s terms, the body’s relationship with property is a human universal. The “Indian” is as capable of extracting property from Commonwealth as the Christian European, since “the Law of reason makes the Deer, that Indian’s who killed it” (Locke 306). The marker of cultural difference between “the Indian” and the European parallels that already established between the subjects of res familia—figured by the domesticated allegorical cats, dogs, and parrots—and the absented pecuniary goats. This marker is waste, where “as much as any one can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils” is thereby that person’s property (op. cit. 308). Although “nothing was made by God for man to spoil or destroy,” any waste is simultaneously a sacrilege and a violation of the principles of emergent capitalism—whose economics computes only use and exchange. What Mauss shows in this rethinking is that the secular nexum divides forms of life into familial and “inert” pecuniary objects and that this process also facilitates modernity’s separation of religion and economy.

In the history of privacy’s emergence in England and for English Imperialism abroad, one can say that what Marzec calls the syndrome of Robinson Crusoe changes with the changing status of the tithe. Tithing, the Christian remnant of sacral waste, was in diminution through the seventeenth century emplotted by Crusoe’s fictive memoir. As Laura Brace has argued, in the latter half of the seventeenth-century:

debates between the advocates of enclosure and the defenders of commons centered on conflicting notions of property. [D]isentangling the fusion of economic, cultural and religious concerns, [the] opposition [to enclosure] focused on the improvers’ ideal of using the land to its utmost worth. They felt that this reflected a dangerous abuse of the common treasury and ran counter to God’s purposes … God was in control of the land itself rather than interested in its fruits and productivity. (Brace 78)

Nonetheless, it was the improver’s logic that became the norm for the economic individualism that would be espoused by the globalizing English church. The narrative by which Defoe renders his goats a signifier of res pecunia also allegorizes the transformation and enclosure of land in late seventeenth century England. The dynamic of Crusoe’s family at dinner permits useless expenditure only as a sign of sovereignty. This contradictory and covert retention of sacral expenditure will not be articulated until the twentieth century postulation of a gift exchange by Mauss or that of a general economy by Georges Bataille. Where, for Marx, enclosure signals only the emergence of private property, Crusoe’s “living magazine of Flesh” produces an individualizing function of privacy; this function operates through the sacrifice of life.23 The Christian logic of sacrifice was replaced through the late seventeenth and early eighteen centuries by new forms of non-productive circulation: the European commodity trade in luxuries and the credit economy. Crusoe’s cats refer to this transformation and by metonymic association complicate the figure of the “hand” in enlightenment economies of human exceptionalism.24

“God gave the World to Men in Common,” Locke recounts, “but since he gave it them for their benefit, and the greatest Conveniences of Life they were capable to draw from it, it cannot be supposed he meant it should always remain common and uncultivated” (Locke 309). Yet the Indian’s very mode of life is rendered intrinsically wasteful by a process of comparison within the logic of use and exchange which Locke has gradually been adopting. Since “an acre of land that bears here Twenty bushels of Wheat, and another in America, which, with the same husbandry, would do the like, are without a doubt, of the same natural intrinsick Value,” then Locke deduces that the appropriation of land from savages should logically follow (op. cit. 316). “[I]f,” Locke rejoins, “all the Profit an Indian received from it were to be valued and sold here . . . it would scarcely be worth any thing.” In this way, the secularization of European economics parallels the “civilization” of the colonized. Crusoe’s goats figure enclosure in Europe and abroad. As such they figure the extraction of surplus value from the forms of life that populated enclosing commons of the imperial center which, as Crosby observes, were being transplanted to its new colonial domain. Equally they figure the insistence upon secular economy to which such figures of the sacral as Friday’s people—like Locke’s Indian—finds themselves subject. Taking a Bit from Crusoe’s “Hand” as a mark of “special favour,” the animals of Crusoe’s little family stand for the economic unwieldiness, which remains at the heart of the enclosing metropole.25 With the diminution of tithing in England, the sacral connotations of economics that still subsist within res familius undergo an alternate purge that sees them transformed into alternate economic forms. As Carolyn Merchant argues, “enclosure represented for the English the most prevalent method of entering the market economy” (qtd. in Nash 80).

Crusoe’s first encounter with animals is the discovery of a wild cat seated atop a chest recovered from the doomed vessel. “I found,” he says,


no Sign of any Visitor, only there sat a Creature like a wild Cat upon one of the Chests . . . I toss’d her a Bit of Bisket, tho’ by the Way I was not very free of it, for my Store was not great: However, I spar’d her a Bit, I say, and she went to it, smell’d of it, and ate it, and look’d (as pleas’d) for more, but I thanked her, and could spare no more; so she march’d off. (RC 41)

The “wild Cat” is fed a “Bit of Bisket” that should not be spared by the frugal Protestant colonialist. As I have argued, the feeding of the wild cat can be read as a sacrifice unjustifiable either in the emergent discourse of political economy or in any extant practice of the English Church. Where this exuberant expenditure could be thought in Bataille’s terms, it could contemporaneously have allegorized only the threat of either savage religion or popery. The store not being “very free of it” marks a curious exception in an allegory that plays out through the thrifty enclosure of this wild island.26 In certain colonial English dialects, from at least 1607, the word Bit could connote a number of kinds of coin, by


the eighteenth century the bit was generally the old Mexican real [equivalent] of a dollar or about 6d. sterling; later values assigned are a half pistareen or of a dollar, and (in some colonies) the value of 1d. sterling.27

The signifier bit, then, while denoting a scrap of food in the both the early wild Cat scene and the scene at dinner can also be read to connote coin in this way: at the horizon of what, for the dictionary’s compilers, is a parenthesized emergent colonialism.28 In concert with the Bit, Crusoe's familial feline subjects gradually transform themselves into figures of luxury exchange.

The figural pack of cats can be endlessly unpacked, so to speak. Theodore F.M. Newton first reconstructed Defoe’s abortive attempt to avoid debtor’s prison in 1692 by entering business as a civet farmer. A reference to Defoe in a Bankrupts Bill of 1706, reads: “He has run through the degrees of Comparison, Pos. as a Hosier; Compar. as a Civet-Cat Merchant; and Super. as a Pantile Merchant” (ctd. in Newton 10). Civets were a luxury item whose glands excreted a “buttery oil” from which could be produced “the base of a well-known perfume” (op. cit., 12-13). This was then “packed in bullock horns and shipped to the perfumers of Europe and America,” and, as Newton asserts, “there was a ready market for such an elixir” (op. cit. 10). Defoe’s apparent history with Civet Cats provides another way to read the connection of the figural cats to luxury trade, a fascinating context in light of the contemporary credit-driven economy that produced the South Seas Bubble of 1720. It also proffers an alternate way to read the furious breeding of the mad pack of cats on the Island that Crusoe cannot explain. The biographical resonance of Defoe’s own failed scheme to farm civet cats foregrounds luxury economics as the hinge between familiar European markets and the emergent global trade. As Armstrong argues “interbreeding between the ship’s cats and wild animals suggests their common origins [from] European ships” (35). The cats that Crusoe pays “special favor” to at table through a “bit” from his sovereign “Hand” are the hybrid offspring of European cats run wild in the colonial dominion of Crusoe’s making. In this way, the globalization of useless expenditure is both an export of European mercantilism that this project represses and an invention specific to the colonial project. Feeding the cats figures the necessity of investing liquid capital in luxury goods that—like civet cats—are themselves immutably fungible. Crusoe’s transformation of the island may suggest the need for frugal husbandry and enclosure as a prerequisite to the sovereign enjoyment of domination. It also functions to compensate for the violence done to the goats, who become themselves an export of the European self.29

As Brace argues, the diminution of the practice of tithing is a sign of the reduction of religious sacrifice as it inversely corresponds to the increasing enclosure of common lands. The cats emerge as a hybrid excess of the erasure of the Christian sacral. In relegating this excess to Europe’s outside, Crusoe’s cats mark the simultaneous outside to the emergent Protestant ethic via their connotation of the economics of excess and ritual and this, in turn, is figured through European and non-European others. In this light, we can begin to see the economic rationale (however irrational) of othered practices of excessive consumption that loom large in Defoe’s account, like cannibalism—one of Defoe’s key motivations for enclosing his compound (to avoid the “Hands” of savages and barbarians).

While the tithe was consistently associated with the despised practices of the papacy, Defoe appears more concerned with the regulation of non-Christian forms than with fear of Popery.30 Like the figural wildness of the cats, this feared religious alterity is to be managed through the hand—a manual metaphorics. In the Further Adventurers of Robinson Crusoe Crusoe happily joins with a Papist against the greater evil of the island’s new population of “Spaniards” who “were the main Body of the [island’s] Family” but have neglected to baptize their “savage” wives (1). In the Further Adventures the papist’s solution for ensuring the civilization of the island and of its place in Christendom is to “take the work out of the Hands” of Crusoe’s hybrid populace of savages, Spaniards, and wayward Englishmen (23). Before savages and “Idolaters” can corrupt them, the papist insists Crusoe should, “teach them the knowledge of the true God.” Here the “Hand” connects labor and proselytism at the foundation of commonwealth—indeed of pastoral care more generally. The metaphorics of the hand frames this categorization of people into forms of life wherein the pastoral actor in the wilds of foreign possessions is rewarded for his proselytizing efforts by the guarantee of future dominion. Pleased with his good works, Crusoe later notes, “it is a valuable thing indeed, to be an instrument in God’s Hand to convert seven and thirty Heathens to the knowledge of Christ” (26; emphasis added). In celebration for the sovereign’s return, Crusoe’s subjects roast five goat Kids (9). In the Crusoe fictions, the hand itself is refused manumission by its ongoing role in the economics of pastoral care from goat to slave to subject. Defoe’s reconciliation of labor and providence through metaphors of species property. Between the cat, the goat, and the hand that divides and binds them, figurations of animality and difference reveal the complementary emergences of economic subjection, religious transformation, and the taxonomy of life.

Cat-astrophe. Since I opened through Aristotle, it would do to temporarily return to the classical politics in order to ground the discussion. In the Poetics “the king” must be “the natural superior of his subjects” even as the subjects of his sovereign protection must also be “of the same kin and kind” as he (BW 1143). In order to be exchangeable, chattel beings like Crusoe’s goats are arbitrarily removed from the family, that is, from the status of kin. Yet in Defoe’s fiction the goats are the offspring of the first tame goat, which, we saw, became one of Crusoe’s “domesticks.” In narrativizing this paradox, Defoe’s “analogy of animals” succeeds in narrating the modern form of political subordination with precision. The goat Kid, like Friday are the first and most familiar creatures in a process of defamiliarization that estrange their offspring (which are clearly “of the same kin and kind”) to the status of inert possessions. In Crusoe, as I have argued, secular modern narratives of sovereignty and economy retain a metaphorics of descent and familiarity which thoroughly retains the residues of Christian individualism, even as they are converted into new symbolic forms.

The taxonomy of exchangeable creatures that inhabits Defoe’s allegory portends the interdependence of biopolitical technologies in the modern global economy. In this newly reconstituted global nexum the form under which life is rendered property is politically central. These indeterminacies are foreshadowed by Defoe’s fiction, which has proven both influential and prophetic. Animality and race mutually constitute the property form of the emergent global order dominated by first world capital. Here I want to signal some of the implications of the preceding examination of the figural animal economies in Crusoe, as they imply the emergence of this biopolitical property form of under modernity.

Not until twentieth century engagements with non-European economies did the contradictions of Lockean and other English moral and political thought become clear. Bataille, for instance, famously argued that individualism—which he called sovereignty—is grounded in the transcendence of the human soul even as this soul is contradictorily grounded in an irreducibly animal body.31 More recently, Esposito asserts that a kind of quasi-religious transcendence continues covertly as the enabling of that least politically questioned category of person-hood. For Esposito, the “dispositif of the person” describes the inextricable religious and economic structure of individuation that operates in concert with the humanist paradigm. In the aporia between the human body and the horizon of transcendence lies the “person” whose dispositif “superimposes and juxtaposes humans as men and animals as men; or that distinguishes a part of man that is truly human from another that is bestial, that is enslaved to the first.”32 Esposito argues, “to be able to legitimately assert what we call subjective rights (at least in the modern juridical conception of rights), one needs beforehand to have penetrated the enclosed space of the person” (1),  the economic connotations of which should by now be immediately apparent. In bestowing and retracting familial status on the various beings in his dominion, Crusoe’s narrative acts out this tension between the possession of an “enclosed” personhood and the capacity to assert the protection and obligation of fellow beings. As an economic category that evades even the old legal reliance on embodiment the dispositif of the “person” remains in political operation even after humanist discourse claims to have extricated itself from its problematic race and gender biases. Within this dispositif, animals are hardly people too, to be sure. They are beings who rely on protections that citizens of the first world, as enclosed and enclosing persons, are immunized from affording them. I say first world citizens because it is not only non-human life (though this is categorically the case), but humans themselves who are affected by the contradictory production of personhood. It does not suffice to be a human in order to be treated as a person: a living being subject to sympathy and obligation. The modern form of pecuniary capital and the secular taxonomy of living property developed in the eighteenth-century can be seen as the beginning of the dispositif of the person for the Imperialist project of England and, to some degree, the models that it is produced in its wake.

The hand remains a central figure in this relation. For Esposito, “figures of manumissio and mancipatio [are] unequalled in their capacity for coercison and creative flights.”33 The hand of the sovereign individual permits a continuity between the granting of the status of protection and partial freedom to others [manumissio] and the correlative form of possession and release with its connotation of economic proprietary [mancipatio]. Esposito draws out this partiality through its classical prehistory in Roman citizenship.34 But, as I have argued, the partiality of political subjectivity and its relation to the economization of sympathy is reorganized in the early eighteenth-century through allegorizations like that of the European traveller’s encounter with the non-human and the non-European. As I noted earlier (via Deleuze) it was Hume who first openly observed this emergent contradiction—as early as 1739.35 The initial model of the moral framework of obligation for Hume is the affective dimension of the family (Deleuze 39). As a conceptual tool for thinking society, Deleuze notes, families “exclude one another; they are partial (partiales) rather than made up of parts (partielles). The parents of one family are always the strangers of other families . . . The problem of society, in this sense, is not a problem of limitation, but a problem of integration.” The problem is that this enlightenment social logic of moral philosophy, like the Roman law from which it descends, does not contain a mechanism for inclusion. Like Crusoe’s compound, the English enlightenment’s model for sympathetic engagement with alterity in the sphere of politics and economy is mired in contradictory familiatories and favoritisms. This dynamic of differentiation emphasizes corporeal care over sovereignty as the general condition of a familiar or recognizable personhood: whose hidden condition is the appearance of civilization. This is apparent insofar as it invades so many even well intentioned models of ethics and politics.36

In the neocolonial order which Crusoe’s island nation-building portends the citizens find themselves consistently at risk of animalization.37 It is this risk of reduction to the status of virtual chattel, the relegation to the pecuniary position within the global dominion that traverses the category of human and animal in the dispositif of the person. Being a person within the secular public sphere of today’s global order still requires that one perform an enclosed, frugal individualism that, insofar as what Derrida calls globalatinization defines this order, remains Abrahamic. As Jean Joseph Goux notes, limning Bataille’s failure to penetrate capitalist society, “[p]roductive expenditure now entirely dominates social life. In a desacralized world, where human labor is guided in the short or long term by the imperative of utility, the surplus has lost its meaning” (208). The emergence of this person, immunized of all that is objectionable to the Abrahamic legacy coincides with the emergence of a politics for which the rational participation of reflective subjects as its basis. As Partha Chatterjee has recently argued, politics today “emphasizes the welfare and protection of populations . . . using similar technologies all over the world but largely independent of considerations of active participation by citizens in the sovereignty of the state” (47).

The problem with the political economic legacy of the Robinsonade is not only that the rational public sphere has not lived up to its egalitarian project but it is also that the neocolonialist architects of this global island continue to believe that it has. The tense relation between the familial and the pecuniary, between the kin and the essentially other, between the potential person and a “living magazine of flesh”—each of these early modern binaries pre-empts what Judith Butler identifies in the twenty-first century as “indefinite detention,” to which we all remain potentially subject. 38


Revision of this essay was precipitated with support from the Shirley Bard Rapoport Graduate Essay Prize.

Many thanks are due to Betty Joseph, in whose graduate seminar many elements of the present essay were conceived, and of course to Cary  Wolfe, who continues to lend a generous ear to developments in my  thinking. Josh Kitching also deserves warm acknowledgement for his  always timely and thoughtful editorial remarks.

1.  cf. Foucault, The Order of Things, 21-29.

2. Colleen Glenney Boggs, Una Chaudhuri, Susan Mary Griffin, Ursula K. Heise, Michael S. Lundblad, Laurie Shannon, Cary Wolfe, The Future of Animal(ity) Studies, Panel 681, MLA Annual Convention, Monday 29 December, 2008.

3. cf. Haraway, 21; Derrida, “This Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow).” Trans. David Wills. Critical Inquiry. 28 (2001), 369-418.

4. I take seriously Cary Wolfe’s more thoroughgoing recent annotation of the complexities of dealing with non-human animals in a posthumanist manner. As well as complicating the terms of reference, this also implies a thoroughgoing skepticism of the temporality reified in historicist and even new historicist literary critical methodology.  Cf. Wolfe, “’Human, All too Human’: Animal Studies and the Humanities,’” PMLA 124:2 (2009), 564. I discuss this at greater length in my “Caveats for the Posthuman Past: Questions of Methodology in Eighteenth Century Animal Studies,” in ECTI 49 (2008), Supplement.

5. Watt’s study makes the influential claim that privacy’s temporal and subjective conditions are brought into literary form. See Watt, The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding, U California P, 1977. Maximilian Novak had already established the centrality of economics to Defoe’s fiction in his Economics and the Fiction of Daniel Defoe. James Thompson’s more recent account seeks to use the novel’s relation with economics for conjectures on the “modeling” of economics in anticipation of such postmodern eschewals of economic reference as one finds in the thought of Jean Baudrillard. Thompson, “Defoe and the Narrative of Exchange,” in Models of Value: Eighteenth Century Political Economy and the Novel. Durham NC: Duke UP, 1996, 87-131.

6. Rousseau notes famously that the ideal first book in a proper education should not be “Aristotle, Pliny, or Buffon . . . [but] Robinson Crusoe” (RC 262).

7. I mean to invoke Foucault’s notion of social apparatus, which he called a “dispositif.” For Foucault taxonomies of difference are produced from within historically contingent apparatuses of knowledge and material domination. For exploration of the complex idea of a dispositif see Foucault, Archeology 50-6, 79-134; Gilles Deleuze, “What is a Dispositif?” in Michel Foucault: Philosopher. Trans. Timothy J. Armstrong. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992, 159-168. For a recent discussion of this concept in animal rights discourse and Roman law, see Esposito, “The Dispositif of the Person,” Trans. Tim Campbell. Forthcoming in Law, Culture, and the Humanities. (2010): MS 1–21.

8. On the connection between post-Marxist thought, biopolitics, and caveats for the conjugation of Gramscian terminologies with an adaptation of Agamben, see Laclau, “Bare Life or Social Indeterminacy,” in Giorgio Agamben: Sovereignty and Life. Ed. Matthew Calarco and Stephen De Caroli. Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 2007, 11-22.

9. cf. Heidegger, Being and Time, 63-4. Cary Wolfe has argued that the hand is one in a series of signs of species difference. Arguing that the dividing function of the hand extends beyond philosophical discourse into scientific discourse with the “romance of the opposable thumb,” Wolfe’s account destabilizes the distinction between animality and the human in Derrida through a systems-theoretical register. Cary Wolfe, “In the Shadow of Wittgenstein’s Lion: Language, Ethics, and the Question of the Animal,” in Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory. Chicago: U Chicago P, 2003, 44-96.

10. Wolfe’s account destabilizes the distinction between animality and the human in Derrida through a Luhmannian register of second-order observation in Wolfe, Animal Rites, 44-96.

11. cf. Esposito, 44-76.

12. I employ this rhetoric of following in a narrative form and also in a diegetic space in order to background that most Derridean tension between suivre and pister. The “Am (More to Follow)” that figures in the idiomatic titling of David Wills’s excellent translation of Derrida’s L’animal que donc je suis excellently restores this tension between suis [am], suivre [to follow], and pister [to trail] that inhabits the deconstruction of humanualism in Derrida’s text. Derrida, L’animal que donc je suis. Paris: Galilée, 2006.

13. L. type *domini{omac}n-em, deriv. of domini-um property, ownership. Oxford English Dictionary 2d. 1989.

14. In this formulation, analogies of domination—paternal power over subjects adjacent to paternal power over children—are gradually replaced in practice by the modeling of population and the analysis of the family as an object of political power. “Prior to the emergence,” Foucault notes, “of population, it was impossible to conceive that art of government except on the model of the family, in terms of economy conceived as the management of the family.” “Governmentality” in Essential Works of Foucault 1954 – 1984, Volume 3: Power. Ed. James D. Faubion. London: Penguin, 2000, 201–222, 216.

15. Marx theorized the coincidence of the basic conditions of the life and subsistence in the process of labor in his essay “Estranged Labor,” even as he reinscribes the species barrier via man’s self conscious apprehension of his own conditions. Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, 111-3.

16.  cf. Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, 239-264.

17. “The law of reason makes the Indian his who hath killed it.” Locke, Two Treatises, 307.

18. cf.  Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, 51-74.

19. For the mimetic function of animals in regard to the recurrence of the fable in eighteenth century England in a number of recent essays, see Frank Palmeri, “The Autocritique of Fables,” and Richard Nash, “Animal Nomenclature: Facing Other Animals.”

20. It was Carl Schmitt who attempted to establish the continuity between space and law in modern as well as ancient jurisprudence. Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of Jus Publicum Europaeum. Trans. G. L. Ulmen. New York: Telos Press, 2006.

21. As Joseph notes, Roxana’s “narrative strategy” of individualism through sexuality “resembles [Crusoe’s] conjuring with Robinson Crusoe on the Island.” Betty Joseph, Reading the East India Company, 37.

22. As Mauss observes, the latin word most denotatively translated as “thing” [res], is best traced etymologically to a Sanskrit word for gift: Latin- res, sanskrit rah/rahti. See Mauss, The Gift, 50.

23. Marx makes this argument in the section on primitive accumulation that closes the first volume of Capital. Clearly I do not intend to take umbrage with the notion that enclosure reform results in the simultaneous emergence of privacy and alienation. Rather, as I have been arguing, this contention must analyzed in relation to the subjection of life.  Marx, Capital, 369.

24. cf. Haraway. When Species Meet, 165.

25. Nash has discussed eighteenth-century animal nomenclature and Poll’s status as mimetic being at length in his “Animal Nomenclature,” 107-8. Armstrong discusses Poll’s speech in terms of Lockean and Cartesian models of consciousness in What Animals Mean, 18-21.

26. This is no doubt a consequence of the influence of Max Novak’s admittedly brilliant analysis of the correspondence between Locke and Robinson Crusoe and the effects the latter was to produce subsequently. Novak rightly argues that Crusoe narrativizes the emergence of utility in such an isolated situation as a distant island. Novak also discusses Marx’s argument that exchange is presupposed even in such conditions, as I have earlier remarked, in Novak, Economics and the Fiction of Daniel Defoe, 54-59.

27.  Bit. n. 1608 {emem} Belm. Lond. III. 122 Coiners..vulgus, Bit-makers. In the eighteenth century the bit was generally the old Mexican real value of a dollar or about 6d. sterling; later values assigned are a half pistareen or of a dollar, of a dollar, and (in some colonies) the value of 1d. sterling. (Gomes Cassidy and Brock Le Page 44)

28. What I here call “parenthetical colonialism” conjugates an important dialogue that animal studies might pursue with such a postcolonialist as Joseph, who points out that “[f]eminist critique of mainstream historiography has revealed that when the subject of history is normatively male, sexual difference appears as an agent of historical causation.” One might add to Joseph’s fine point the observation that when the subject of history is carnally male, sexual difference appears as the erasure of gift exchange, for instance at the moment when “Defoe’s Roxana (1724) stages the self-constitution of its female protagonist against the background of British commercial expansion.” Reading the East India Company, 4, 32.

29. The wild Cat’s gendering as a “she” can also be read as a resonance of contemporary figurations of non-productive economies as feminine, for instance in the satirical image of “Dame Credit.” Kimberly S. Latta, “The Mistress of the Marriage Market: Gender and Economic Ideology in Defoe’s Review,” in ELH 69:2 (2002): 359-83.

30. cf. Brace, Idea of Property, 76-80.

31. cf. Bataille, Theory of Religion. New York: Zone Books, 1989.

32. Roberto Esposito, “For a Philosophy of the Impersonal,” Trans. Timothy Campbell, forthcoming in Centennial Review, (2010): MS 1–15, 9. Citations are from the manuscript pagination. The translator has given permission for these citations.

33. Esposito, “The Dispositif of the Person,” Trans. Tim Campbell. Forthcoming in Law, Culture, and the Humanities (2010): MS 1–21, 11.Citations are from the manuscript pagination. The translator has given permission for these citations.

34.  Esposito notes that “no one in Rome was a full-fledged person from the beginning of life nor did one remain a person forever,” limning not only ancient forms of slavery, but also the transition from fili to patres, and other transformations in age, class, condition, property ownership that variously transformed the relation between life and citizenship in the classical scene. Esposito, “The Dispositif of the Person,” 11.

35. cf. David Hume, Treatise of Human Nature. Oxford: Clarendon, 2007.

36. Esposito has in mind here, for instance, the way the Utilitarian philosophy of life espoused most famously by as Peter Singer, “unambiguously accept[s] the Roman doctrine of the initial distinction between person and non-person, through the intermediate stages of the quasi-person, the semi-person and the temporary person.” Esposito, “For a Philosophy of the Impersonal,” 9.

37. cf. Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2001, 27-8, 235-8.

38. cf.  Judith Butler, Precarious Life: Powers of Mourning and Violence. New York: Verson, 2006, 50-100.

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