Machines of loving grace? Beagles, laboratory science, and an instrumental love
(University of Leeds)
Eva Giraud (Keele University)
Paper short abstract:
Paper long abstract:
Recent research has argued that emotion does (e.g. Pickersgill, 2012) and should (e.g. Silverman, 2012) play a central role within scientific knowledge production. Within animal research, emotional relationships between individual researchers and nonhuman research subjects, for example, have been cited as a means of countering asymmetrical power relations in laboratory contexts, providing the foundation for crafting complex, co-shaped ethical relations (Haraway, 2008). These approaches foreground somatic relationships between the actors involved in research and challenge instrumental approaches to knowledge-production in order to expose tensions within the formal ethical frameworks that legitimise these approaches (Greenhough and Roe, 2011).
This paper problematizes such valorizations of 'love' through an examination of the historical consolidation of beagles as the standard dog for use in laboratory research. Beagles came to be positioned at the centre of the animal research laboratory, in part, because their 'merry disposition' makes them amenable to forming relations with researchers. Beagles, therefore, illustrate the vulnerability of 'love' to instrumentalization and exploitation within scientific practice. This case-study thus opens questions about whether 'love' can still act as a meaningful foundation for ethics within scientific knowledge production, which unsettles asymmetrical power-relations, and - if so - what can be done to guard against its instrumentalization?