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Edward Mussawir and Yoriko Otomo

Over the past decade there has been a growing interest internationally in ‘animal law’ as a topic of legal study, sometimes taught as part of an environmental law programme, and sometimes taught as a self-standing course. More than in other fields of legal study however, animal law faces an intellectual terrain that is often polemical and rhetorical, with a reformist agenda. While the concerns that drive this mode of scholarship may be admirable, a focus on advocacy that seeks to draw on ‘good law’ to achieve its political aims or to make law good where it is currently ‘failing’ or ‘out of date’, renders it difficult to attend closely to the question of method in relation to law and the animal. It is difficult to think, in other words, about how the animal may be approached as a subject or object of legal knowledge when there is a presumption that ‘law’ is simply a passive repository for the ideologies of a progressive liberal society. In this chapter, the authors try to preserve a space for thinking differently about the methods and tools that can be brought to the field of animal law. The chapter presents a dialogue between its two authors who draw upon and comment upon their approaches to analysing the work that law does in controlling, constructing, destroying, and perhaps caring, for animal life. The authors explore in this way, some of the necessary but easily neglected facets of research method and conduct. They touch specifically on the ways in which it may be possible to attend to the animal either within the technologies of law themselves or in excess of their capacity to manage the boundaries between public and private, nature and culture, feminine and masculine, and the sacred and profane. (This critical impulse is, of course, indebted to a rich scholarship of critical legal theory and critical legal studies.) They also reflect on the pleasures and difficulties of using various research methods.