Porkopolis: American Animality, Standardized Life, and the Factory Farm

Porkopolis: American Animality, Standardized Life, and the Factory Farm

by Alex Blanchette

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Overview

In the 1990s a small midwestern American town approved the construction of a massive pork complex, where almost 7 million hogs are birthed, raised, and killed every year. In Porkopolis Alex Blanchette explores how this rural community has been reorganized around the life and death cycles of corporate pigs. Drawing on over two years of ethnographic fieldwork, Blanchette immerses readers into the workplaces that underlie modern meat, from slaughterhouses and corporate offices to artificial insemination barns and bone-rendering facilities. He outlines the deep human-hog relationships and intimacies that emerge through intensified industrialization, showing how even the most mundane human action, such as a wayward touch, could have serious physical consequences for animals. Corporations' pursuit of a perfectly uniform, standardized pig—one that can yield materials for over 1000 products—creates social and environmental instabilities that transform human lives and livelihoods. Throughout Porkopolis, which includes dozens of images by award-winning photographer Sean Sprague, Blanchette uses factory farming to rethink the fraught state of industrial capitalism in the United States today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781478007890
Publisher: Duke University Press Books
Publication date: 05/08/2020
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Alex Blanchette is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Tufts University and coeditor of How Nature Works: Rethinking Labor on a Troubled Planet.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations  vii
Acknowledgments  ix
Preface. Watching Hogs Watch Workers  xiii
A Note on Photography  xvii
Introduction. The "Factory" Farm  1
Part I. Boar
1. The Dover Flies  33
2. The Herd: Intimate Biosecurity and Posthuman Labor  45
Part II. Sow
3. Somos Puercos  73
4. Stimulation: Instincts in Production  89
Part III. Hog
5. Lutalyse  121
6. Stockperson: Love, Muscles, and the Industrial Runt  137
Part IV. Carcass
7. Miss Wicked  167
8. Biological System: Breaking in at the End of Industrial Time  177
Part V. Viscera
9. Maybe Some Blood, but Mostly Grease  203
10. Lifecycle: On Using All of the Porcine Species  211
Epilogue. The (De-)Industrialization of the World  239
Notes  247
References  265
Index  287

What People are Saying About This

The 4-H Harvest: Sexuality and the State in Rural America - Gabriel N. Rosenberg


Porkopolis is a rigorous and insightful ethnography of food production that connects the politics of labor to ambitious theorizations of political economy and biopolitical governance. Beautifully written and highly accessible, Porkopolis is a field-defining work in animal studies, the anthropology of labor, and food studies. An outstanding book.”

The 4-H Harvest: Sexuality and the State in Rural America - Gabriel Rosenberg


Porkopolis is a rigorous and insightful ethnography of food production that connects the politics of labor to ambitious theorizations of political economy and biopolitical governance. Beautifully written and highly accessible, Porkopolis is a field-defining work in animal studies, the anthropology of labor, and food studies. An outstanding book.”

The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America - Heather Paxson


“In Porkopolis, the industrial pig is not just vertically integrated; it is pervasive, conditioning hog and human bodies and saturating workers' social lives and living spaces. Exquisitely researched and indelibly written, Alex Blanchette's arresting ethnography challenges us to see industrial meat as a new biopolitical regime, the next chapter in capitalism's quest to dominate nature by standardizing life.”

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