Emerging perspectives on the labor of animals highlight the role of non-humans in generating value. However, few of these accounts explore the role of resistance in shaping the character of animal labor and the structure of this activity within value chains. In this essay, I explore the relationship between animal labor under capitalism, its relationship to resistance, and the potential offered by contemplation of resistance to capitalist time. First, I examine animal labor, focusing particularly on animals used for food, and attempt to untangle the complexity of their structural place within systems of value under capitalism. Second, I discuss the specific antagonism that shapes the work of food animals, where animals confront humans, and increasingly machines, in relations of hostility. My aim here is to show the way that resistance is tied to the structural position of food animals as laboring subjects. The refinement of technologies of domination, and their response to the “wild” resistances of animals, aims at bringing animal labor time into sync with the rhythms of productive processes. This perspective highlights the politics of time involved with animal subordination to capital, but it also perhaps connects with a utopian imagining of life for animals outside of this time.
Dinesh Wadiwel; Chicken Harvesting Machine: Animal Labor, Resistance, and the Time of Production. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 July 2018; 117 (3): 527–549. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-6942135
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