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Mortal love: Care practices in animal experimentation
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for Housing and Urban Research.
2011 (English)In: Feminist Theory, ISSN 1464-7001, E-ISSN 1741-2773, Vol. 12, no 2, 147-163 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article addresses the embodied nature of laboratory human–animal practices in order to understand the notions of care that take place within an institution of domination – the apparatus of animal experimentation. How is it possible to both love and harm in this context? Building on animal studies and feminist ethics, the theme of emotionality is explored in the section ‘loving animals’. Here it is demonstrated that empathy and affection for individual animals, as well as species, are strong components of an experimental ethos expressed by the informants. The second empirical section deals with the issue of ‘killing well’. The good kill is supposed to be done with care: quickly and compassionately. This is performed by way of bodily measures of care, technological refinement and personal skills and, sometimes, with the help of a division of labour. In the concluding section, the empirical findings are read through the framework, where the feminist theoretical analysis of love, dependency and care from an embodiment perspective understands the dialectics of instrumentalisation and exploitation of – and care for – animals, not as something that goes on above or outside of relations, but rather as something that can be understood from within. ‘Mortal love’ is the attempt to capture and theorise this dialectic, arguing that emotions of love and friendship are not mere justifications for the harm and killing performed, but rather intrinsic dimensions of the embodied animaling of experimental human–animal relations

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SAGE Publications , 2011. Vol. 12, no 2, 147-163 p.
Keyword [en]
animal studies, animaling, care, feminist science studies, killing, welfare
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-159188DOI: 10.1177/1464700111404206ISI: 000294611200003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-159188DiVA: diva2:443237
Available from: 2011-09-23 Created: 2011-09-23 Last updated: 2015-08-14Bibliographically approved

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Holmberg, Tora
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