The technological intensification of livestock production and slaughter has effaced animals and humans in them, ironically leaving room for animal products to become animal-free. In this talk, Sophia Efstathiou will present an analysis of intensification as relying for its optimisation on ‘technologies of effacement’ (Efstathiou 2019, 2018; Vialles 1994; Coppin 2003). These range from CAFO architectures and confinement crates, to uniforms and protocols for identifying animals: though developed with manifest aims like expediency, hygiene or safety these technologies operate to block humans and animals facing each other, as morally significant ‘Others’ (Levinas 1969, Efstathiou 2019).
Ironically, leaving the animals and the humans working to turn them into food out of the public eye offers up a chance to escape: to dislocate, along with joints, the meaning of meat from the very animals whose flesh, blood and organs are supposed to make it up. Terms like ‘milk’, ‘sausage’, ‘burger’, ‘mince’, originally reserved for animal-based materials and made familiar through intensification come to hold enough ambiguity through their disconnection from the animal for an alternative approach to occur. The superhero cattle-in-a-cape used as the logo of the plant-based meat products Beyond Meatâ personifies this twist in how minds and worlds co-evolve: sausages entering the picture to free up pigs, and humans, from their meat fates.