What It Means to Be Human (Paperback)

Historical Reflections from the 1800s to the Present

By Joanna Bourke

Counterpoint LLC, 9781619021679, 448pp.

Publication Date: July 23, 2013

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (12/20/2011)

List Price: 22.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Avoiding the impenetrable prose often found in academic books, this deeply scholarly work is lively and challenging in equal measure, and rewarding throughout. --Boston Globe
In this fascinating account, Joanna Bourke addresses the profound question of what it means to be human rather than animal. How are people excluded from political personhood? How does one become entitled to rights? The distinction between the two concepts is a blurred line, permanently under construction. If the Earnest Englishwoman had been capable of looking 100 years into the future, she might have wondered about the human status of chimeras, or the ethics of stem cell research. Political disclosures and scientific advances have been relocating the human-animal border at an alarming speed. In this meticulously researched, illuminating book, Bourke explores the legacy of more than two centuries, and looks forward into what the future might hold for humans, women, and animals.

About the Author

Joanna Bourke is a Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London and an active contributor to radio, journalism, and television. She is author of several books, including "Rape: Sex, Violence, History and Fear: A Cultural History," which was shortlisted for Mind Book of the Year in 2006. She lives in London.