Seminar on Environmental and Agricultural History
"The Glass Walls of Fair Oaks Farms"
April 7, 2017
2:30 - 4:30 pm
cnr of Amherst and Wadsworth Street, Cambridge
My prior work (Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight) examines the kill floor of an industrialized slaughterhouse in order to explore how distancing and concealment work as mechanisms of power in modern society. In this talk, I consider a counter-case: a concentrated pig and dairy cow feeding operation (CAFO) that converted its concrete walls to glass in order to draw 130,000 visitors per year, generate many millions of dollars in tourist revenue, and convince the broader public that factory farms are good. What, I ask, might we learn from the glass walls of this factory farm about the capacity of transparency to reinforce, rather than disrupt, relationships of domination and oppression? And what, in turn, are the potential implications for those who rely, explicitly or implicitly, on making the unseen visible to catalyze social and political change?
Timothy Pachirat is assistant professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and author of Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight (Yale University Press, 2011).