Molina Klinger, Bayrische Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

The Unalienable Right of Life: Multispecies Democracy and Speculative Writing

How is life narrated? Declared as an unalienable right in the Declaration of Independence, the security of life is one of the natural rights on which democracy is firmly grounded. How is this connection between life and rights narrated? Arguing that the literary imagination partakes in shaping the political and legal public discourse, this project explores contemporary speculative writing in order to investigate the conceptual changes in the intricate relation between life and rights. With a growing sense of environmental awareness, and then particularly with the rise of theories of the Anthropocene, a paradigmatic shift becomes apparent: our understanding of life moves from an anthropocentric towards an ecocentric perspective. Located at the nexus between American Studies and the Environmental Humanities, this project looks at speculative stories of entangled human and other-than-human lives, which offer a testing ground for the idea of a multispecies democracy. Disclosing the connections between human rights, environmental history, earth jurisprudence, and speculative writing, I assess cultural narratives about the inalienable rights we associate with life, and the literary representations of life itself.