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Alex Blanchette

2012-2013

Weatherhead Resident Scholar

Affiliation at time of award:
Ph.D Candidate
University of Chicago
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies
Tufts University (Starting in 2013)

Conceiving Porkopolis: The Production of Life on the American “Factory” Farm

This dissertation project is a workplace ethnography of the American “factory” farm that tracks the annual production of seven million pigs at all stages of being from semen to cellophane. It moves across every stage in the labor process from genetics to post-slaughter processing to understand the cultural stakes of an emergent rural economy built out of the industrial pig. Theoretically, it queries the concept of the “factory” embedded within the factory farm, finding that it is a complex of ideas and ideals drawn from historical stock images of manufacturing industries and layered over farming practice, workers, ecologies, and the pig. These observations motivate a reformulation of political economy and ecology that can account for this form of bio-industrialization in an allegedly post-industrial United States. At SAR, Blanchette plans to restructure his dissertation into a manuscript that accounts for the cultural-ideological form of vertical integration he encountered on the Great Plains, while completing a photography-based public anthropology project for publication.

Photograph by Jason S. Ordaz.

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