LABR 2Q95 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Anthropocentrism, Termite, Wage Labour

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2 Feb 2016
Studying labour involving animals
Lecture outline
The intellectual and political landscape
oPicturing where we are standing intellectually and looking
at what is around us
The histories of human-animal relations
The contemporary context (today)
There are two sides Humans vs animals (these two sides don't often
come together)
-This area of research exists because of the political and scholarly
world, there is a growing interest impelling this. Labour studies
remains anthropocentric. It is very common to $nd people who
believe in social justice but it stops with humans’ believe in
fairness and equity but only for humans. Animals are either not
considered at all or people are comfortable with harm to animals.
-On the *ip side is the animal, where people advocate for animals.
They discuss labour but it is often to criticize. Have to worry
about the animals, don't need to worry about the people
Canadian culture:
-there are some inconsistent ideas about animals. This is true
around the world. Every human culture has inconsistent ideas
about animals.
-For example: I love animals. By animals I mean just cats and
dogs. While eating steak. More often people means something
more narrow then the entire animal kingdom.
Book: Both People & Animals
-Is about people and animals
-Quote: what is it in for the animals, what are the animals going
to get from studying them?
-If we are going to do this we have to think about how it will help
the animals and the people (such as the working class) we cant
simply say we are focusing on animals. We are focusing on both.
-Multi-optic vision” (kim) vision looking at multiple areas.
Opposite of this you are just looking at one issues or one group.
Kim is challenging us to focus in on more than one thing.
oFor our context we are doing a study that is multispecies:
looking at multiple species. For example we could be
looking at humans and tigers, it could mean dogs and cats.
We don't necessarily know what the species are but we
need to study work places that are often multispecies that
are working simultaneously.
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- Interspecies: about relationships between. (Think of the world
international, between nations) interspecies often happen when
you have multispecies.
Navigating the multispecies Intellectual Landscape:
-Societies think di<erently, indigenous people (people native to
the place) in particular have varies ideas about animals which
cannot be generalized. They tend to see themselves as part of
nature rather then above it.
-Western perspectives: focus on creating dichotomies (binaries,
poles, couplets) we know this is about presenting two sets of
ideas that are positioned in opposition to each other. These are
often ranked hierarchically.
oCulture  Reason  Man
oNature Emotion Women
-Even though we are biological beings, we are still superior to the
natural world. We can conquer it. The large majority of what we
do are not rooted in our biology they are political.
-The history of humans: what we choose to do with these
technologies and skills isn’t particularly nice.
-We have created the nature culture dynamics however we never
see ourselves completely distinct from nature.
oWe pick and choose (contradictory)
-We cant say we are separate from nature because we live
amongst it. Moreover animals have been found to have their own
-We see culture in nature as well.
-We don't embrace biological deductions’/ essentialism: it is
rooted in our biology, it is naturally part of us an innate.
-We are connected to biology but it is not our entire identity.
-People will often defend themselves; saying that we are not
driven by our biology we are driven by political and social ideas.
-We are positioned to study nature and culture: therefore we talk
about the intersections of nature vs. culture. Our course is where
human worlds and non-human worlds come together.
oIn particular we are looking at labour.
-Words: Nature-Labour “nexus” the meeting point where they
come together (spheres overlapping, in a ven-diagram type of
We now see culture within nature:
-we now see unlikely friendships on social media (money and dog,
elephant and dog, cat and ducks)
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