The New Visibility of Slaughter in Popular Gastronomy
Thesis DisciplineCultural Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Animal slaughter has recently become highly visible in popular food media. This thesis interrogates the myths, assumptions and ideologies underlying this so-called New Carnivore movement, through critical analysis of a range of popular gastronomic texts. Socially-constructed ideas about ‘reality’, ‘sentimentality’, ‘sacrifice’, and ‘redemption’ are intimately implicated in the process of animal slaughter, as are the notions of ‘good taste’ and social distinction. The domination of animals, demonstrated through the slaughter, butchery, and consumption of nonhuman bodies, is held to be an integral component in the performance of gender, as well as a means of reconnecting, via a kind of secular epiphany, with ‘Nature’ at its most authentic. As a hostile backlash against the social progress made by the animal advocacy and vegetarian movements, New Carnivorism denigrates vegetarianism and veganism as outdated, unfashionable, unnatural, puritanical and rude. Although these texts’ potential to inspire farmed animal welfare reform should not be ignored, New Carnivorism ultimately serves to naturalize, justify and promote the continued consumption of meat, and the continued exploitation of nonhuman animals, in Western societies.