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Tuesday 19 October, 4pm, Simon 2.39 / Zoom (link tba)

Dr Camille Bellet, CHSTM, and Dr Emily Morgan, Iowa State

Breed(ing) narratives: Visualizing Values in Industrial Farming

We’ll be meeting largely in person but opening it up as far as possible over Zoom – for details, please contact Dr James Sumner.
Emily will be joining us by Zoom; Camille will be in the room.

Abstract: In this study, we consider how farmed animals, specifically pigs and chickens, are visualized in literature designed for circulation within animal production industries. The way breeding companies create and circulate images of industrial animals tells us a lot about their visions of what industrial animals are and how they believe animals should be treated. Drawing upon a wide range of material designed for circulation within animal production industries, from the 1880s to the 2010s, this paper examines how representations of pigs and chickens contribute to stories of perfection and advance ideals of power, race, gender, and progress. We demonstrate that visual representations of industrial animals have remained remarkably stable over time, testifying to the deep roots of human desires and assumptions about animals in capitalist societies. We argue that breed-standard images of pigs and chickens uphold complex and deeply-imbricated value systems that extend beyond discourses centered on the animal body. Carefully considering visual representations can help animal production organizations to address their own deep ideologies, in the process redefining norms and reorienting practices toward ethical responsibility.