Ghosts and Things: Agriculture and Animal Life

Global Environmental Politics. 2018, 18(2): 134-142.

This article makes a case for centering animal life in conceptions of environmental, agrarian, and dietary change. It begins with a brief discussion of the extinction spasm and defaunation and suggests that envisaging landscapes of animal “ghosts” might help to evoke the ecological impoverishment this entails. Landscapes of ghosts are then set against the soaring populations of animals in industrial livestock production, stressing both the extensive biophysical implications and the intensive interspecies relations of these systems, in which individual animals can be seen to be reduced to little more than fungible “things.” The core argument is that the fast-changing conditions of both wild and domesticated animals, and their interrelationships, are an important and often underappreciated aspect of global agrarian, and efforts to confront this course are fundamental to prospects for a more sustainable world.

Tony Weis