Animal Studies Journal


I’m halfway through Kathryn Gillespie’s book when it hits me. This enormous shadow lake of sadness I’ve been walking around with – it’s dairy. It’s the electric prods that move cows through pens. It’s the endless stream of bovine bodies flowing around the world. It’s the ginormous global wet market of milk and semen. It’s the aftermath of shotgun blasts delivered to immobile cows, to fugitive cows, still ringing in my ears. It’s the call of mothers and children separated at auction yards. It’s that we’re living in a context of (almost) compulsory dairy consumption. It’s that writing about the commodification of animal life appears to be an endless task and though I cannot take my eyes away from its pages, reading The Cow with Ear Tag #1389 also feels like an endless task. Endless because I have not, cannot, retain all the details Gillespie has packed into this book in only a single read. I know and I feel that I am not just working my way through this book; it is working its way through me.