Animals’ matter: commodification and singularization of ‘animal substances’ in South Korea

Abstract: My findings among dog meat producers/suppliers in South Korea and sheep farmers in France indicate that the closer a participant gets to the epicentre of the animal objectification process, the more difficult they find it to both perceive and transform a living animal as a commodity. This difficulty often follows intersubjective exchanges between humans and animals which, however brief, are particularly impactful when the latter resist their own taming or termination and, thereby, emerge as individuals in their own rights. In this paper, I will explore resistance and transformation in human-animal interactions through the lens of classical and contemporary anthropological debates about commodification and singularization. In particular, I will show that ‘animal workers’, through retrospective narratives of ‘epiphany’, not only place value on the emotional resistance that emerges from being affected by interspecies exchange, but also on their own philosophical resistance as human individuals against dominant discourses about human exceptionalism and masculine domination.

VMMA-Pitt Rivers Museum Lunchtime Lectures Michaelmas 2019

Pitt Rivers Museum Lecture Theatre (off Robinson Close)

Fridays at 1pm (Weeks 1-8)

Convened by Clare Harris and Marcus Banks