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Erin McKenna

Erin McKenna is an associate head of philosophy and a professor of philosophy. Her book Livestock: Food, Fiber, and Friends, examines the complex relationships between human and animal beings commonly considered as livestock and argues for an ecofeminist pragmatist perspective that requires deep contextual understanding and respect in order to improve these relationships.

"Most livestock in America currently live in cramped and unhealthy confinement, have few stable social relationships with humans or others of their species, and finish their lives by being transported and killed under stressful conditions. In Livestock, Erin McKenna allows us to see this situation and presents alternatives. She interweaves stories from visits to farms, interviews with producers and activists, and other rich material about the current condition of livestock. In addition, she mixes her account with pragmatist and ecofeminist theorizing about animals, drawing in particular on John Dewey's account of evolutionary history, and provides substantial historical background about individual species and about human-animal relations.

This deeply informative text reveals that the animals we commonly see as livestock have rich evolutionary histories, species-specific behaviors, breed tendencies, and individual variation, just as those we respect in companion animals such as dogs, cats, and horses. To restore a similar level of respect for livestock, McKenna examines ways we can balance the needs of our livestock animals with the environmental and social impacts of raising them, and she investigates new possibilities for human ways of being in relationships with animals. This book thus offers us a picture of healthier, more respectful relationships with livestock." -description from publisher website

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"Erin McKenna argues for an ecological or 'biocentric' perspective on 'livestock animals.' In her interviews of livestock farmers and observations of their farms, she investigates human ways of being in relationship with animals raised for human consumption and contextualizes these relationships within their broader natural environments. Then, examining these contextualized relationships through the dual lens of pragmatism and ecofeminism, she develops a picture of healthier, more respectful relationships with the animals we know as 'livestock.' After reading this book I better appreciate the complexity and interrelatedness of agricultural ecologies and economies."

– Mary Trachsel, University of Iowa