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Dr Emma Roe seminar

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13 November 2012, 11am
at the James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen
for scientists and researchers
Emma Roe

Dr Emma Roe, Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Southampton, will give a seminar entitled "The food animal as visceral-objects: practices of meat production, processing and retailing" at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen. It will be broadcast live to the Dundee site.

Studies of the food and agricultural industry has been at the forefront of work that explores relations about human and non-human bodies in terms that give a material age ncy to the nonhuman foodstuff (Murdoch 2006, Whatmore 1997; Buller; Goodman and Fitzsimmons 2002; Roe 2006).

Within this body of work the cultural practices of the meat processing and livestock production industry has received sustained geographic interest to illustrate the politics and ethics of commodifying global natures plants and animals - in global agricultural production (Hinchliffe 2001; Law and Mol 2008; Holloway 2001).

This paper builds on this work to consider how the agencies of matters that make-up edible bodies (chickens and cattle) in agricultural production practices are shaped by and shaping the industrial practices that deliver the global provisioning of diverse foodstuff that contain qualities of or constituted of meat protein for human consumption.

It is suggested that understanding more about the agencies of matter-processes that bring meat products to supermarket shelves may further help to understand the environment in which contemporary phenomena of food inequality, food waste and obesity manifest.

This argument involves appreciating the biologies of animal bodies of different species and how growth-rates and body-shape is linked to meat product requirements for high value meat cuts and lower value cuts and mapping this through to culturally-specific culinary practices and the supply of highly processed meat products. This is tackled through developing the figure of the Œvisceral object whose generation is reliant upon the co-generation of other visceral objects of different biological matters and capacities. In this way a novel approach to causal factors of contemporary food crises is articulated in terms of a politics and ethics of animal body matter.

Beginning her career studying embodied food consumption practices, she moved into the study of farm animal welfare through working on the EU WelfareQuality® research project between 2004 and 2009. She has established herself as one of the leading academics in the study of embodiment, materiality and non-humans in agro-food studies attracting research funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, the British Academy, the EU and Sainsbury's Supermarkets.

Recent publications engage with the ethics and politics around sentient materialities and somatic sensibilities in food/animal/human research, and the governance of food retail and food service markets for higher welfare food products. She continues to work closely with animal welfare experts in the animal welfare science and food industry community. She is currently preparing a co-authored book manuscript with Professor Henry Buller, University of Exeter, entitled ’Valuable Lives: the production and consumption of farm animal welfare' to be published by Berg in 2014.

Emma is developing her interest in animal welfare beyond the farm through a study of the relationships between laboratory animal technician and experimental animals with Dr Beth Greenhough, Queen Mary University of London.

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.