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Cruel Intimacies and Risky Relationships: Accounting for Suffering in Industrial Livestock Production

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This article investigates the hypothesis that greater human-livestock intimacy can deter cruelty and mitigate suffering in the industrial production of animals for human consumption. The history of industrial agriculture in North America is one of increasingly utilitarian, profit-based, and technologically mediated relationships between humans and the animals they raise and kill for food. Under what circumstances is the physical and emotional distance between producers, consumers, and consumed animals an impetus toward uncaring and irresponsible relationships? Do even intimate interspecies encounters in livestock production involve cruelty and suffering? This article addresses these questions and evaluates reform options by attending to both the localized arrangements and systemic structures of industrial livestock production. Finally, it proposes a risk-mapping strategy to assess the plausibility of caring intimacies in livestock production.

Affiliations: 1: University of California-Santa Cruz, Email:


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