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Slaughterhouses: The Language of Life, the Discourse of Death

Abstract

This chapter explores condoned animal abuse in the slaughterhouse and food production processes. Through a consideration of extant ethnographic research with slaughterhouse workers, the authors assess the ways in which the killing of other animals for meat becomes normalised through various institutional and cultural practices which, in large part, work to ensure that this slaughter remains invisible. The authors argue that one key component in this is the constant and consistent separation of humans and animals into discrete categories: this ensures that animals are considered as objects rather than subjects, which neatly separates humans from animals and allows the latter to be seen as ‘walking larders’ rather than sentient individuals. Through an analysis of the mechanisms whereby animal slaughter and death are normalised, the chapter addresses the ways in which the cultural hegemony of meat and the normalisation of institutional animal abuse are interconnected.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Unwanted companion animals are also routinely slaughtered; albeit this is usually referred to euphemistically as euthanasia. While the focus of this chapter is on animals farmed for human food, the numbers of companion animals killed are substantial. While our relationships with companion animals are a form of speciesism, it is sobering to note that even the animals that we hold dear and seek to protect are subject to poor treatment and early death due to human actions. McHugh (2004, p. 9) points out that ‘the dangers for contemporary dogs are real: destroyed by the millions every year as unwanted pets, strays and research subjects’.

  2. 2.

    The books are Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Susan Bourette’s Meat, a Love Story, and Scott Gold’s The Shameless Carnivore.

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Taylor, N., Fraser, H. (2017). Slaughterhouses: The Language of Life, the Discourse of Death . In: Maher, J., Pierpoint, H., Beirne, P. (eds) The Palgrave International Handbook of Animal Abuse Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-43183-7_9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-43183-7_9

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