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Animal Studies Journal

Abstract

In this study, we consider how farmed animals, specifically pigs and chickens, are visualised in literature designed for circulation within animal production industries. The way breeding companies create and circulate images of industrial animals tells us a lot about their visions of what industrial animals are and how they believe animals should be treated. Drawing upon a wide range of material designed for circulation within animal production industries, from the 1880s to the 2010s, this paper examines how representations of pigs and chickens contribute to stories of perfection and advance ideals of power, race, gender, and progress. We demonstrate that visual representations of industrial animals have remained remarkably stable over time, testifying to the deep roots of human desires and assumptions about animals in capitalist societies. We argue that breed-standard images of pigs and chickens uphold complex and deeply imbricated value systems that extend beyond discourses centred on the animal body.

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