Life (Un)Ltd presents “Old Macdonald Had a Database: Lessons from the National Animal Identification System”. Kath Weston, University of Virginia.
Many of today’s hotly debated surveillance technologies made their debut in applications with animals. In the United States, the National Animal Identification System is a state-sponsored Big Data scheme that proposes to render each animal destined for the dinner table capable of being tracked and traced, in whole or in part, throughout its material existence, in the name of protecting public health and facilitating international trade. The NAIS represents a historical shift away from prevention and inspection of food production facilities, toward an investment in traceback operations that attempt to secure the nation’s food supply by securing the animal body. Under the scheme, each pig, sheep, and cow receives a “unique individual identifier” sutured to its body using a range of surveillance devices and mapped onto a premises registry. What is at stake in the struggles over animal citizenship, bio-intimacy, and techno-intimacy that have ensued in the wake of implementation of the NAIS? This talk is based on one of the case studies in the Professor Weston’s forthcoming book, Animate Planet: Making Visceral Sense of Living in a High-Tech Ecologically Damaged World.
Organized by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, and co-sponsored by the UCLA Department of Anthropology.
Kath Weston is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Virginia. Her current work focuses on political economy, political ecology and environmental issues, historical anthropology, and science studies. She has also published widely on kinship, gender, and sexuality. Before coming to the University of Virginia, she taught at Harvard University and Arizona State University. She has also served as a Visiting Professor at Cambridge University, the University of Tokyo, Brandeis University, Wellesley College, and Olin College. Weston has conducted fieldwork and archival research in North America, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. She is a longtime member of the National Writers Union and the author of multiple books.