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Designer Cows: The Practice of Cattle Breeding Between Skill and Standardization

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Cattle fair arenas are panopticon-like spaces that are instrumental in dissecting the cow's body into functional parts or traits. The arena aestheticizes a partitioning gaze that is codified in a marking system: the "linear evaluation protocol" for milk cows. The positioning of the nonhuman animal body into a highly artificial context allows one to view the cow as a self-standing object, ready to be partitioned. The exhibition space of the cattle fair and the surveying eye of the cattle fair judge aim to recreate a laboratory space within the relatively "artisanal" and approximate context of the breeding practice. However, there are several limitations, down sides, and contingencies that contrast the project of standardization of the skilled practice of breeding.


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