In the 1990s a small midwestern American town approved the construction of a massive pork complex, where almost 7 million hogs are birthed, raised, and killed every year. In Porkopolis Alex Blanchette explores how this rural community has been reorganized around the life and death cycles of corporate pigs. Drawing on over two years of ethnographic fieldwork, Blanchette immerses readers into the workplaces that underlie modern meat, from slaughterhouses and corporate offices to artificial insemination barns and bone-rendering facilities. He outlines the deep human-hog relationships and intimacies that emerge through intensified industrialization, showing how even the most mundane human action, such as a wayward touch, could have serious physical consequences for animals. Corporations’ pursuit of a perfectly uniform, standardized pig—one that can yield materials for over 1000 products—creates social and environmental instabilities that transform human lives and livelihoods. Throughout Porkopolis, which includes dozens of images by award-winning photographer Sean Sprague, Blanchette uses factory farming to rethink the fraught state of industrial capitalism in the United States today.
About the Presenters:
Alex Blanchette is an assistant professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Tufts University. He is the author of Porkopolis: American Animality, Standardized Life, and the Factory Farm (Duke University Press, 2020) and the co-editor of How Nature Works: Rethinking Labor on a Troubled Planet (SAR Press, 2019).
Jan Dutkiewicz is the Connie Caplan Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. He has published about the politics of meat production in a range of academic journals, as well as in publications including The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Jacobin.
Anand Pandian teaches anthropology at Johns Hopkins University.