Maria E Garcia
Develops ideas, concepts, or institutions that cut across the arts, humanities, and social sciences. For University Honors Program students only.
ANIMAL PLANET: FOOD, DEVELOPMENT, AND ACTIVISM IN GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE. Recent years have seen an increase in interest about food politics: how it is produced, where it comes from, how it intersects with class and racial inequality, childhood obesity, and climate change among many other issues. Yet recent scholarship on and activism around food very often ignores the centrality of non-human animals. This course will focus on the place of animals in transnational economies of food and development programs. We will also explore the global movement for animal rights and welfare, and challenge the notion that concern over the plight of “food” (and other) animals is limited to the “developed” world. Taking animals as the proverbial “fish in the water,” this course seeks to complicate and de-naturalize the common sense understandings that make non-human animals an all too invisible part of world politics.More specifically, students will consider how industrial food production and the exploitation of animals in this context is linked to such global concerns as climate change and pandemics. The globalization of the “factory farm” model of production has implications for human and non-human animal lives, as the epidemics of “mad cow” disease, avian flu, and “swine” flu have recently and dramatically demonstrated. Industrial animal agriculture’s tremendous impact on global warming and climate change is also increasingly and alarmingly clear. In the “developing” world, policy makers and agribusiness often cite the “need” for industrial models of production as necessary for the alleviation of poverty and hunger. In this course we will examine this claim and look carefully at the implications of development programs that place “traditional animals” at the center of new strategies to confront poverty. We will engage this new development literature and ask what the cultural and economic implications of this process are for local communities who often value animals for religious and social reasons that are incommensurable with the metrics of international development. Finally, students will explore the ethical and moral debates that have emerged under the rubrics of animal rights and animal welfare. While this debate has largely been seen as a “First World” phenomenon, this course will look at how concerns for the lives of non-human animals have been expressed by local communities and activists in a global context.
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