STS Talk with Alex Blanchette: Vertically Integrated Intimacy: Love, Labor and the Industrial Pig
STS talk with Alex Blanchette:
Vertically Integrated Intimacy: Love, Labor and the Industrial Pig
This paper is about interspecies alienation and love on factory farms in the United States, at a moment when hormone drugs are increasingly being used to make workers take on — as forms of prosthetic, embodied, mimetic labor — some of the pig’s basic biological processes. As part of a broader project on the overworking of life, it describes how industrial agriculture’s current model of labor exploitation inadvertently cultivates forms of (historically-specific) radical knowledge of — and intimacy with — non-human beings. Thinking at the intersection of (recent) proposals in multispecies ethnography and (older) projects on the sociology of work, the aim is to speculate about how farmworkers’ situated expertise and intimacy with hogs could matter for questions of justice.
Alex Blanchette is an assistant professor of anthropology and environmental studies at Tufts University, and a 2015-2016 Ciriacy-Wantrup visiting scholar in the department of geography at the University of California, Berkeley. He is completing a book based on 27 months of ethnographic research in some of the world’s largest pork corporations, dedicated to tracing the making of the industrial pig across all stages of its existence from pre-life to post-death.