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By Dale Carrico: Evadeus Corpus: Absenting the Referent in the Meat-Industrial Complex

Dale Carrico, Ph.D. Lecturer, Department of Rhetoric, at the University of California, Berkeley writes at the blog amor mundi. Today's entry talks about "ag-gag" legislation as it relates to Carol Adams conception of the absent referent as well as how the animal-industrial complex devalues and damages human animals along with the non-human ones.


Iowa is the nation's leading pork and egg producer with nearly twenty million hogs and over fifty million egg-laying chickens in confinement. No doubt this accounts for the recent move of the Iowa Legislature to criminalize undercover video documentation of animal abuse in factory farms and to establish serious misdemeanor penalties for activists and whistleblowers who apply for jobs at agricultural facilities intending to expose cruel and inhumane conditions in them. Given his close ties to agricultural interests, it seems unlikely that Governor Terry Branstad will veto the legislation, although activists are trying to put pressure on him to do so. According to the Miami Herald article linked above, similar laws are under consideration in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, and Utah.

"The intent behind the legislation is to put a chilling effect on whistleblowers on factory farms," said Matthew Dominguez, a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States. "It begs the question of, what exactly does animal agriculture have to hide?" The answer to this question, of course, is: everything.

Feminist-Vegetarian theorist Carol Adams has long insisted that the "meat-industrial complex" relies crucially on the ongoing maintenance of "the absent referent," an ongoing distraction and derangement of attention from animals as sites of engaged consciousness into substance available for consumption, the discursive, institutional, and practical complex of substitutions transforming "corpses" into "meat" -- from the translation of animal bodies named in one part of our lived awareness as cows, chickens, hogs into another part of our experience instead as consumable "beef", "poultry", "pork", to the marginalization of horrific crowding smelling screaming metal and bone and bloodletting nonhuman animal processing plants into concentrated geographies undertaken by precarious mostly minority almost entirely invisible human animal laborers doing some of the most dangerous, most injurious, most stressful, worst paying work in the world.

Please read the whole thing here: Evadeus Corpus: Absenting the Referent in the Meat-Industrial Complex


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