Displaying Animal Death: The Politics of Transparency and the Production of National Identity in Industrial Pig Agriculture and Zookeeping in Denmark

Research output: Book/anthology/dissertation/reportPh.D. thesis

Abstract

This thesis addresses the heretofore unexamined effect of transparency on the practices of killing animals in meat production and zoo animal management in Denmark. At the intersection between economic anthropology, human-animal relations, and phenomenological anthropology, I investigate the epistemic, ethical, and affective modes that animate these multispecies encounters. I describe how making practices of killing animals transparent confronts us with the existential discomfort of being human triggered by a confrontation with our self-anointed imperial control over life and death. Such an existential angst is negotiated by the disciplinary, coercive, and conforming influence of a collective identity, and in the zoo and the slaughterhouse, this is manifest in the discursive marshalling of national identity rhetoric, or Danishness. In order to engage with the affective ethics and critique the underpinning anthropocentric logic of killing animals in meat production and zoo animal management, this project takes a multispecies multimodal ethnographic approach. A more-than-human sensibility disrupts the anthropocentric logic of exploitation and commodification that animates both field sites. A multimodal approach, specifically incorporating visual methods, discloses the boundaries of transparency by showing that which is not shown. Through writing affectively, imagistic wordplay cultivates an experiential engagement with the ethnographic world that is wrought in the words of this thesis. The aim of this thesis then is to understand the logic underpinning transparency in a zoo and a slaughterhouse and how this corresponds to Danish national identity. In doing so, I articulate the paradoxes of care, the emotional landscape of killing and death, and the affectively-wrought ethics of making meat and managing captive animal populations. In its interrogation of the epistemic, ethical, and affective dynamics of making transparent practices of killing animals, this work challenges the widely-held positive connotations of transparency, by illustrating both its desired effects and desired affects that are institutionally-defined and societally-reinforced.
Original languageEnglish
Place of publicationExeter
PublisherUniversity of Exeter
Number of pages345
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Dannelse
  • Fascination
  • Killing Animals
  • Denmark
  • danishness
  • Emotion work
  • Meat production
  • Pigs
  • Transparency
  • Slaughterhouse work
  • Social Anthropology
  • Visibility
  • Zoos

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