Veganism as an ethics and a practice has a recorded history dating back to Antiquity. Yet, it is only recently that researchers have begun the process of formalising the study of veganism. Scholars who examine this theory and action are usually situated in sociology, history, philosophy, cultural studies or critical animal studies. The centrality and contested nature of place in the actions and discourse of animal rights activists however suggest an inherently spatial praxis. Slaughterhouses are deliberately closed and placed out of the sight; our familiar urban environment is filled with references to eating meat and exploiting animals, although normalised and rendered invisible. As our planet rapidly urbanizes, particularly in developing countries, it correspondingly leads to rapid biodiversity decline and local species extinction. As per the Secretariat on Convention on Biological Diversity (2011), most of the biodiversity hotspots are either already in urban areas, or finding themselves at increasing proximity to urban spaces, calling for urgent critiques of equitable and inclusive spatialism. Animals are moved across international borders for both illicit and ‘legal’ trade, including to habitats which are emphatically inappropriate. Wildlife poaching as well as ‘livestock’ meat/dairy trade have been closely linked with international terrorism activities (Mishra 2008) and rebel militias in Asia and Africa. Animals are coopted into nation-building projects (Lorimer and Driessen 2016), where their bodies, habitats and territorial spaces are enmeshed into narratives of violence, racism and speciesism.
Activists increasingly take to the street to defend animal rights and invite individuals to change their perception on everyday places and practices of animal violence. These can be highly political spatial encounters, as demonstrated by the arrest of Anita Kranjc of Toronto Pig Save on charges of ‘criminal mischief’ for giving water to overheated pigs on the way to slaughter, and the instituting of Ag-gag laws criminalizing animal activists for ‘trespassing’ on spaces where ‘animal property’ are kept. Animal liberation and veganism therefore embody an inherently spatial praxis – the desire to live without places of violence (White, 2015). As underlined by Harper (2010:5-6), ‘veganism is not just about the abstinence of animal consumption; it is about the ongoing struggle to produce socio-spatial epistemologies of consumption that lead to cultural and spatial change’. While an interest in domination over non-human animals has gained momentum within critical geography circles in the last two decades (Wolch and Emel, 1995; Philo and Wilbert, 2000; Emel et al., 2002, Gillespie and Collards, 2015; White, 2015), the scarcity of available literature highlights the need for geographers to further reflect on vegan activism and practice.
The Vegan Geographies sessions will underscore the question as to what geographers can, are are doing, to contribute to our understanding of critical veganism and vegan praxis.
|Presenter||Yamini Narayanan*, Deakin University, Posthuman cosmopolitanism as a vegan ethic for planning zoöpolises: human-snake relations in urban India||20||3:20 PM|
|Presenter||Julie Coumau*, Université Paris-Sorbonne, Vegan activism in Paris : bodies in struggle||20||3:40 PM|
|Presenter||Mona Seymour*, Loyola Marymount University, Envisioning a vegan agriculture||20||4:00 PM|
|Presenter||Rebecca Ellis*, University of Western Ontario, Living among insects: Organizing human spaces to allow for insect flourishing||20||4:20 PM|
|Discussant||Richard White Sheffield Hallam University||20||4:40 PM|
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