In 1872, a woman known only as ‘An Earnest Englishwoman’, published an open letter entitled ‘Are women animals?’. She protested that women were not treated as fully human, and that their status was worse than that of animals. Joanna Bourke, author of What it Means to be Human: Reflections from 1791 to the Present, talks about what it means to be ‘human’ rather than ‘animal’.
Joanna Bourke is a Professor of History at Birkbeck College in London where she has taught since 1992. Over the years, her work has ranged from the social and economic history of Ireland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, to social histories of the British working classes between 1860 and 1960s, to cultural histories of military conflict between the Anglo-Boer war and the present. In recent years, she has been researching the history of the emotions, particularly fear and hatred. She has also been exploring the history of sexual violence. Her book An Intimate History of Killing: Face-to Face Killing in Twentieth Century Warfare received critical acclaim, winning the Wolfson History Prize. Her latest book, What it Means to be Human: Reflections from 1791 to the Present, is published by Virago.
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