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Accepted Paper:

Determining Viability and Death in the Danish Animal Welfare State. A study on the Makings of Bureaucracy  
Marie Leth-Espensen (Lund University)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I explore hierarchies of suffering and knowledge figurations in on-farm animal welfare inspections. In contemplating the broader consequences of this politics of care, I trace the figuration of the 'suffering body' as it transpires through the exercise of authority.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I address the work of Danish animal welfare controllers based on two theoretical impulses. First of all, I explore the role of veterinary and pathological expertise in the 'knowledge figurations' of animal welfare control addressing how care practices are "embedded within the interest and expertise of these institutions" (Ogden, 2008). Secondly, I examine how animal welfare bureaucracy engages a politics of care (Fassin, 2005; Ticktin, 2011) 'operating' on both controllers, farmers and animals.

Bureaucratic encounters remain scarcely studied beyond their human contexts (however, see Anneberg et al., 2013). A few notable studies from within legal anthropology and legal geography, however, have brought attention to how professional code of conduct and exercise of authority inform care and control in multispecies "care" institutions such as the zoo and conservation sites (Braverman, 2012; Srinivasan, 2017). In addressing the role of state-authorized veterinarians performing on-farm inspections, I extend the previous literature by examining how bureaucratic knowledge production comes to establish hierarchies of evidence, 'trivializing' certain practices while 'moralizing' about others. Based on analysis of interview material and control reports, I explore how the imperative to minimize suffering translates into extra-legal constructs such as 'the necessary sanction' and 'effective control.' Finally, while farmers and controllers are competing over 'proper care,' I ask what happens to the animals themselves as they become legible as subjects in a politics of suffering?

Panel P090a
Revisiting street-level bureaucrat encounters: from discretion and authority to emotional labour and moral contingencies I
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -