Meat Consumption and the Idea of Animal Resources

Страна: Великобритания;

Дедлайн: 28.02.2015



The Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures focuses on advancing the science of sustainability and connecting it with the policy debate around how humans can live in a more sustainable way.

This studentship will trace the historical emergence of our current ideas of animal resources by studying the interactions of humans and meat animals in literature from the nineteenth century to the present. There will be three case studies, focusing on both production and consumption: small-scale farming; large-scale farming and trawler fishing.

The student will collate a suitable corpus of texts and explore three key research questions:
1. What mix of attitudes is involved in thinking of an animal as a resource?
2. How do such attitudes vary in different practices of food production?
3. What other roles can animals play in addition to their designation as resources?

This project enhances the interdisciplinary programme of research at the Grantham Centre by integrating approaches from the humanities (critical literary analysis from English Studies and historical and zooarchaeological study) with those of the social sciences (philosophical analysis and normative recommendations from Political Philosophy). This integration also allows for another key project outcome: a discussion of findings specifically addressed to the public policy environment, where the humanities voice is rarely heard. The post would suit a student with an interest in cultural approaches to animals and sustainability and a background in literary studies.

A 2010 report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) expresses grave concern at the significant role of meat production in climate change. With an expanding global population and the increased adoption of western diets in growing economies in Asia, it is clear that the level of meat consumption is one of the primary obstacles to a sustainable future. Attempts to address the issue technologically (through the development of in vitro meat, for example) are emerging slowly and at prohibitive cost. The UNEP report firmly recommends ‘a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products’.

Nevertheless, a sizeable long-term reduction in meat consumption remains a way off. The key reasons for this are both cultural and political-economic: for most people and governments, meat-eating is a habitual part of human lives and the economy; animals are widely understood as ‘resources’ which can be raised, traded, killed and eaten freely. As such, shifts in these notions are crucial for movement towards a sustainable worldwide diet.

Research in philosophy and social science has addressed such issues by analysing questions of animal rights and consumer attitudes. While their results are valuable, the conclusions of such methods can neglect the lived complexity of our relations with animals in which ideas about animals as resources necessarily emerge. Literary and cultural texts explore such complexity in far greater depth, giving us additional insights into how animals come to be seen as resources, precious or otherwise, and how such attitudes can, have and might change.

Sheffield is a leading centre for the study of cultural and political representations of animals. The successful applicant will join a vibrant community of scholars working in this area.

We are recruiting Scholars who will combine outstanding intellect with a strong commitment to public engagement, leadership and action. These ambitious individuals will complete interdisciplinary PhD research projects to help solve the challenges of sustainability. They will be supported by the Centre through a unique training programme, designed to equip them with the skills to become policy advocates and leaders in sustainability matters.

Key words: Literature; Animals; Sustainability; Meat; Vegan

Please note: When applying for the PhD through the University of Sheffield please choose ’standard PhD’ not ’DTC’ option.

Funding Notes:

This four year studentship will be fully funded at Home/EU or international rates. Support for travel and consumables (RTSG) will also be made available at standard rate of £2,563 per annum, with an additional one-off allowance of £1,000 for a computer in the first year. Students will receive an annual stipend of £16,913 in 2015/16, rising with inflation thereafter. Applications should be received and complete by 28th February 2015.