Brock University

Animals & Society

This session calls for papers that contribute to the growing body of interdisciplinary research on human-animal relations. As a field of study interspecies relations has evolved considerably over the last twenty years. This session will include papers that extend or contribute to the current literature on animals in society. These papers may include, but are not limited to, studies of animals in sport, recreation and leisure, animal assisted therapy, animals in religion and culture, animal rights movements, human-animal interactions, and the distinction between humans and animals. Keeping with the theme of this conference papers that address, challenge and evaluate traditional social and cultural boundaries are encouraged.

Session Organizer: Michelle Gilbert, McMaster University,


Speciesism and “meat”-eating: A genealogy of food safety laws in Canada

Kelly Struthers Montford, University of Alberta,

In November 2012, the Safe Food For Canadians Act (SFCA) received royal assent. The act is said to “modernize” food regulations; for farmed nonhuman animals this has occasioned intensified scientific intervention and surveillance measures over their lives. Examples include biosecurity and “terrestrial animal disease surveillance” programmes, the “national pig traceability system,” and grants awarded for the genome sequencing of listeria bacteria. The SFCA positions “meat”-eating as inevitable; it likewise understands the health risks (in the form of foodborne pathogens) as expected events in industrial “food” production, which thus require management.

Drawing upon the theorizations of Foucault (1976, 1978) and Derrida (2008, 2009) regarding the law, and the law’s relation to sovereignty, biopolitics, and governance, I analyze the events and struggles wherein “meat” and “food” became problematized as dangerous, and how the role of the state became articulated as that of intervention and prevention. Specifically, I examine how food safety interventions contribute to and perpetuate “meat”-eating practices in Canada. By providing a genealogy of speciesism via food safety laws in Canada, I argue that the continued instrumentalization of farmed nonhuman animals is not the inevitable result of historical development, but the effect of past and ongoing events and power struggles.



Social Justice beyond Human Beings: Trans-Species Social Justice

Atsuko Matsuoka, School of Social Work, York University, , John Sorenson, Dept. of Sociology, Brock University,

In this paper, we address social justice beyond human beings: what we call trans-species social justice.  Today our relationships with non-human animals are changing and we depend on other animals more than ever before for food, clothes, drugs and other matters. Such a realization of our dependency on other animals calls for re-examination of core societal values, including ideas of  social justice. Scholars in Critical Animal Studies (CAS) and animal advocates argue that the unjust treatment of animals is inter-related with unjust situations for humans, and challenge the unexamined everyday exploitation of animals. We will uncover and problematise the taken-for-granted fact that our world is based on systemic exploitation of animals by using Iris Marion Young’s framework of social justice. We will argue that our everyday struggles for countering injustice of humans cannot be addressed in a satisfactory way without an inclusive view of other animals.


© Canadian Sociological Association ⁄ La Société canadienne de sociologie