Working for the man — the werewolf of capitalism

Yikes, it’s been months since my last blog. I’m not sure what I’ve been doing – I seem to have been in my own winter hibernation, unlike the worms who have been chomping away.

There’s a post that I’ve been meaning to write for months – from the Animal Studies conference in Adelaide back in July. It was another wonderful Australasian Animal Studies event, with so many great art works and presentations, though sadly worms didn’t really feature.  Anyway, the one paper that I’ve been thinking about for months is Dinesh Wadiwel’sThe Werewolf in the Room: Animals and Capitalism.”  I was drawn to Dinesh’s session by his question in his abstract: “What happened when anthropocentrism shook hands with capitalism?” I liked that he began by asking what animals see when they confront the machines of capitalism and his answer – a werewolf – a being with a voracious appetite. Dinesh evoked labouring animals as political subjects rather than as objects. And if animals are labourers, producers of value, the question of their working conditions comes up. And with it, the issue of time and their need for time away from the harness of production – like any worker.

Speaking of the harnessed to the job, here’s Dinesh and his image of a chicken harness


So in this era of intensive factory farming, as activists, we could try to address animals’ working conditions, suggested Dinesh. I was stunned by the logic and acuity of his argument – while we hope (and work for a vegan revolution), in the meanwhile, this could offer a viable and unexpected strategy, and unexpected is always a good way to go.  And  I have to say, it was really exciting to see capitalism back in the discussion like this.


Three books for the beginnings of this project. Difficult to decide where to start but Vinciane Despret is calling the most insistently. What Would Animals Say If We Asked the Right Questions? How can I resist her first chapter, “A For Artist: stupid like a painter?” The challenge is not to quote every provocative and enchanting sentence. Like this one “But above all, this enchantment arises by the grace of the attunement between living beings” as animals and people work together.  “No single response has the power to sanction the meaning of what is happening, and this very uncertainty, which is similar to that which we witness in a a display of magic, is part of what makes us sensitive to its grace and enchantment.” (4)

attunement…enchantment…uncertainty…these call out to be categories, now that i’ve wormed my way into wordpress and I’m digging down into categories, heading for subcategories

“O for oeuvres: Do birds make art?” will be next.