Reproducing Dairy: Embodied animals and the institution of animal agriculture
Gillespie, Kathryn Anne
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This text draws on the United States dairy industry as a case study to understand how the institution of animal agriculture is continually reproduced through a repressive political climate, through routine agricultural practices, and through teaching new generations of young people to farm. Framed by the global intimate, I argue that we can learn much about human-animal relations by attending to the relationship between the individual, intimate animal, and global economic processes of commodification. I argue that bovine animals in the dairy industry are subject to a gendered commodification of their bodies based on their sex at birth and that routine practices and industry discourses reveal the violence against these bodies. The conditions under which animals are raised for food in the U.S. are determined by a political climate where animals' legal protections are lax and efficient and scholars, activists and consumers are barred from accessing information about the conditions under which animals are raised and slaughtered. Paired with this political climate, powerful educational institutions work to normalize the current institution of animal agriculture through educating young people in `proper' human-animal relations. Telling the stories of individual animals and humans throughout the text, I draw attention to the grievability of animals' lives and deaths in the food system in an act of making the personal - the intimate - political.
- Geography