Wednesday, October 04, 2017

“Animal Colonialism: The Case of Milk”

New article of interest: Mathilde Cohen, “Animal Colonialism: The Case of Milk,” American Journal of International Law Unbound (September 2017) Volume 111: 267-271.

[Being a vegan, and with a significant portion of my worldview best described as Marxist,* I’m predisposed to find the argument in this very short article congenial. No doubt others will view it differently.]

The first two paragraphs:

“Greta Gaard writes that [t]he pervasive availability of cowsmilk todayfrom grocery stores to gas stationsis a historically unprecedented product of industrialization, urbanization, culture, and economics. To these factors, I would add colonialism and international law; the latter understood broadly to include the rules considered binding between states and nations, transnational law, legal transplants, international food aid, and international trade law. Until the end of the Nineteenth Century, the majority of the world population neither raised animals for their milk nor consumed animal milk. Humans are unique in the mammalian realm in that they drink the milk of other species, including beyond infancy. With the European conquest of the New World and other territories starting in the Sixteenth Century, dairying began to spread worldwidesettlers did not set out to colonize lands and people alone; they brought with them their flora, fauna, and other forms of life, including lactating animals such as cows and sheep.

Bridging the gap between scholarship on animal colonialism and on imperialism and motherhood, this essay argues that lactating animals became integral parts of colonial and neocolonial projects as tools of agro-expansionism and human population planning. Due to its disruptive effects on breastfeeding cultures, the global spread of dairying has not only been detrimental for the welfare of animals, but also for humans, especially mothers and their children. I recognize the simplistic aspect of grouping and analyzing together disparate epochs, regions, peoples, and animals in an inter-imperial historical vein. I do not mean to imply that these epochs, regions, peoples, and animals belong to a coherent whole, but only that despite their diversity, they have experienced comparable forms of state-building projects centered upon the consumption of animal milk. As an aside, animal protection law and advocacy is often critiqued for its supposed cultural imperialism, but as the following discussion illustrates, it may be that the lack of concern for animal welfare exhibited by legal systems was bequeathed by hegemonic European colonizers.”

* At least I’m in good company, the Dalai Lama having recently reminded us that he too is a Marxist. Please see this recent interview: Anup Dhar, Anjan Chakrabarti, and Serap Kayatekin, “Crossing Materialism and Religion: An Interview on Marxism and Spiritual with the Fourteenth Dalai Lama,” Rethinking Marxism, Vol. 28, Nos 3-4: 584-598.


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11/07/2017 1:52 AM  

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