Animal Studies Journal


This paper examines my experiences of anti-dairy activism in New Zealand. Using autoethnographic methodology, I discuss the emotional work and core strategies and tactics of Starfish Bobby Calf Project (hereafter called Starfish). Starfish is a grassroots vegan activist group that I founded in 2013. Its genesis began in my childhood, when I became aware of the plight of bobby calves while living in rural New Zealand. It combines both autobiography and ethnography to analyse the emotional process of becoming an activist and campaigning against dairying. In doing so I uncover the narratives that underpin the dairy industry and the larger ideologies that structure it. This paper also explores the emotional work of animal rights activists in navigating the contradictions of a speciesist culture; including re-representing the animal as an individual with rights and subjectivity. Using Starfish as a case study, it is argued that animal rights politics is shaped by the emotional dynamics of such networks.