Racial Animality and Ecologies of Capacity

Christina Nadler, CUNY Graduate Center: Racial Animality and Ecologies of Capacity

Feminist animal rights activists like Carol J. Adams in The Sexual Politics of Meat have documented the connection between the exploitation of women and animal exploitation. How might we see the connections with racism? This paper will explore this issue through taking up the slaughtering of livestock in factory farming as an event where we see the complicated assemblage of race, sex, animality, humanity, technology, labor, technology and sexuality. In doing so we see the leakiness of race outside the realm of epistemology. If we complicate race as a social construction in the way new materialist feminists have critiqued this for gender, we may start to think of from where else race might be attached or emerge. If we might think of racialization happening to pigs, for example, we may have significant new ways to explore both racism against people of color and animal suffering. This would be different than the ways animal rights activists problematically invoke racism as a parallel  yet distinct struggle to animal rights. Here we have an opportunity to begin to explore how our theories of understanding the world directly connect to the ways in which we enact our politics of social change.

3 thoughts on “Racial Animality and Ecologies of Capacity

  1. Your research sounds really fascinating. I definitely agree that race is a useful way to engage with not only processes of slaughter but also breeding. I study the early c 20 breeding projects in plants where I also find racialised language and rhetorics very much alive and well. The early breeders of plants and animals were brought together in the space of the American Breeders. Also, one of my colleagues who is also presenting at the CSA talks about the Creole pig which as a pathologised raced body comes to play an almost activist and symbolic role in contemporary Haiti. I hope you can catch her talk at CSA.

    • Thanks! Breeding is also really interesting to think about racially. I’m excited to hear about plants though. I’ve been thinking about how easy it is for people to talk about male and female plants but how funny that language is. Even the way people get upset about calling a dog a boy when it’s a girl, etc. I really hope to catch the presentation on the pig!

  2. Perhaps this is a total aside, but in reading your abstract, I wondered about how race feeds into class and rural/urban divides. Specifically about the ways in which factory farming mostly happens either in rural areas (white and immigrant workers), or in sectioned off downtown slaughter houses (again with working poor). But what about the racial components of animalities that occur in 4-H clubs versus pony clubs, or at State Fairs? Could these examples also provide fodder for your understanding of the racialization of animals through geo-politics? Even, or especially when it is the rendering white of workers/owners/breeders?

Comments are closed.