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The Bio/zoopolitics of Livestock Revolution in Tanzania

Authors: Youjin Chung*, Clark University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Agricultural Geography, Africa
Keywords: livestock revolution, biopolitics, zoopolitics, animal breeding, postcolonial posthumanist feminism, Tanzania
Session Type: Paper
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In recent years, the public-private push for a Green Revolution in Tanzania has been coupled with a push for a Livestock Revolution, aimed at transforming small-scale pastoral and agro-pastoral systems into modern, commercial livestock operations to meet the growing demand for meat and dairy. With the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the International Livestock Research Institute, the Tanzanian government launched the Tanzania Livestock Modernization Initiative in 2015. Among the priority technological interventions proposed is animal breeding, or changing the genetic composition of the supposedly “unproductive” indigenous livestock by crossbreeding them with “pure, exotic, and high yielding” animals through artificial insemination and other reproductive technologies. Drawing on secondary and archival research, this paper historicizes the recent policy discourse around the Livestock Revolution in Tanzania by examining its parallels with early colonial attempts at experimental animal breeding. These applications of colonial, racial science were intended to improve the reproductive performance and marketability of local livestock and animal products, ultimately to cater to white elite tastes. By engaging with the concept of bio/zoopolitics from a postcolonial, posthumanist feminist lens, this paper addresses the neglected question of human-animal relations in agrarian studies: how the state and capital intervene to “improve” or regulate the life and death of non-human animals, often in ways that reinforce similar assumptions of racial and gender hierarchies applied to human beings. Attending to these intersecting colonialities of race, gender, and species will be key to understanding the political ecologies of livestock modernization in Africa.

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