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"What a Thing, then, is this Cow...": Positioning Domestic Livestock Animals in the Texts and Practices of Small-Scale "Self-Sufficiency"

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This paper focuses on the positioning of animals other than human in the texts and practices of two versions of small-scale food "self-sufficiency" in Britain. The paper discusses the writings of Cobbett (1822/1926, 1830/1985) and Seymour (1960s/1970s) on self-sufficiency, suggesting that livestock animals are central, in a number of ways, to the constitution of these modes of self-sufficiency. First, animals are situated in both the texts and in the practicing of self-sufficiency regarded as essential parts of the economies and ecologies of small-scale food production. Second, animals' parts in these authors' criticisms of wider social, economic and political conditions supplement their role in small-scale domestic food supply. Animals become associated with a morality of human behavior and lifestyle and are part of the broader social critiques that the writing and practicing of these modes of self-sufficiency imply. These historically and geographically specific versions of self-sufficiency are valuable in defining and enacting possible alternative modes of human-animal relation in the context of food production.


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