Farm Animal Welfare and Sustainability
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To allow publication of the research
This thesis is concerned with acknowledging farm animals and their co-presence in the more-than-human space of the livestock farm, and with accounting for them responsibly in sustainability debates. The enrolment of farm animals as actors in political agendas for environmental sustainability, and farm animal welfare suggests that there are new ways of seeing and being with farm animals that permit their relational presence and recognise their subjectivity. Indeed geographers have in recent years acknowledged animals and their relations with humans, and they have begun to recognise the nature of animal subjectivies. However, within the fundamental rethinking of animals that has been provoked by these discussions, I suggest that farm animals have remained relatively invisible. Occupying ethically confusing terrain, farm animals have nonetheless been visible in a set of philosophical positions regarding their moral status, yet these debates present a rather confusing picture in which the farm animal as an individual is conspicuous by its absence. In seeking to redress the invisibility of farm animals within these debates, and recast them in relation to humans and the broader farm ecology, this thesis attempts to set out an epistemological and methodological framework through which farm animals might become visible as individual fleshy beings. Drawing on the concept of agricultural stewardship and new agendas in farm animal welfare science, it makes use of new methodological tools that have emerged in the social sciences to conduct a relational study of the livestock farm; a study in which farm animals themselves participate. It also considers how the divisions that have been constructed between humans, farm animals and the environment can be reconfigured as a more unified political science of the livestock farm.
PhD in Geography