Browsing by Subject "critical animal studies"

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  • Aavik, Kadri (2021)
    This article examines institutional resistance to veganism, with a focus on the medical system. Based on a qualitative analysis of vegans’ accounts of medical encounters in Estonia, collected via an online questionnaire, I argue that the vegan body is socially constructed as a deviant entity by medical professionals. I suggest that the medical professionals’ perceptions of vegans are based less on the actual conditions of their bodies but more on ideas about what are socially and politically acceptable identities and (bodily) practices. Deviance is produced through association with the uneasy category of ‘vegan’. The experiences of vegans in the medical system illuminate the role of powerful social institutions in resisting transition towards more ethical and ecologically sustainable food practices and in endorsing human exploitation of other animals.
  • Joki, Milla-Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    This thesis examines Facebook posts that Finnish animal welfare associations have published about rescue cats. The object of analysis is established as ‘rescue cat stories’ – a particular kind of narrative that tells the story of one or many cats who are rescued or attempted to be rescued by people who work or volunteer for animal welfare associations. Drawing from the fields of feminist animal studies and critical animal studies, the analysis discusses what thematic elements are prominent in viral rescue cat stories that promote neutering and how these stories are constructed narratively and affectively in a social media environment. The research material consists of four individual narratives: three stories of individual cats and one story of a feral cat colony. In order to locate the research topic, the study discusses what kind of differences and similarities there are in animal welfare, animal rights, and animal liberation philosophies, how the philosophies tend to interlock in certain contexts, and where animal rescue work is located in relation to other forms of animal advocacy. Finnish animal rescue work, which has previously been marginalised in academic research, is regarded with a feminist sensitivity that pays heed to the gendered nature of the caring work that rescue workers are involved in while also taking into account the risk of speciesism that follows from considering only some species as ‘protectable’ and ‘lovable’. In agreement with recent research that has been conducted in the field of feminist animal studies, the analysis contests the stark binary of abolitionism and welfarism and suggests that it is crucial to consider interspecies entanglements without resorting to ableist rationalisations that argue that it would be better for dependent domesticated animals to go extinct than to live as vulnerable beings. The topic of the research is analysed thematically with the help of Sara Ahmed’s theorisation of affects, affective economies, and sticky concepts and Susanna Paasonen’s theorisation of viscerally grabbing resonances. Additionally, Ruth Page’s delineation of mediated narrative analysis is employed in order to distinguish what is characteristic of stories that are shared in a social media environment. The methodological concept of ‘shared stories’ further informs the multimodal, mediated, and participatory nature of narratives that are produced, reproduced, and encountered in a social media environment. The analysis identified the act of naming, death, and mourning as prominent thematic elements that form the backbone of viral rescue cat stories. While the act of naming serves an important role in establishing cats as individuals, it does not seem to entail as much power to ignite the affective economy of a shared story as the aspects of death and mourning do. The goal of all the stories studied in the thesis is to promote feline neutering, but neutering as such does not seem to be sticky enough to ignite the affective economy of a post. Therefore, the research material suggests that the kind of stories that provided a sufficiently contextualised account of naming, death (or the risk of death), and mourning were more likely to grab the audience and generate interactions. Finally, the analysis concludes by stating that while it is possible that the affect-based focus on sharing a particular kind of reaction entails the risk of resonating in anthropocentric registers, other-oriented animal narratives can also have the power of inspiring simulative, other-directed empathy.
  • Komulainen, Riitta (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This thesis examines intersections of far right ideologies and veganism and vegetarianism (hereby called veg*nism), on Finnish anti-immigration online discussion forum, Hommaforum. The research material consists of six threads from the forum that focus on plant-based eating in Finnish contexts. Drawing from the fields of the critical study of men and masculinities, vegan ecofeminism, and affect theory, the analysis discusses themes that emerge from these threads, such as bioessentialism, fear of feminization, and negotiations of masculinity. The study discusses the history of the far right in Finland, from nationalistic movements to right-wing populist parties (RPPs) as well as contemporary far right movements outside of parlamentarism. The study also delves into the history of vegetarianism and veganism. As veganism is an ideology as well as a diet, the study maps out the history of the animal rights movement in Finland, as well as charts the difference between animal welfarism, the animal rights movement, and the animal liberation movement. The interconnectedness of far right ideology and plant-based eating is also discussed. The topic of the research is analysed thematically with Sara Ahmed’s affect theory and theorization of sticky concepts, Michaela DeSoucey’s concept of gastronationalism, and Diana Mulinari’s and Anders Neergard’s concept of caring racism. Utilizing these, the thesis maps out how a sticky figure of the lady in the flowery hat is constructed on the forum, and how this sticky figure haunts online discussions of the far right, and how some behaviors relating to food and eating are constructed as Finnish while others are constructed as not belonging in Finnish culture. Plant-based eating has been historically viewed as feminine in an effort to justify the colonializing of countries where it has been historically more prominent. The study analyzes how these arguments that plant-based eating is feminine are still represented in online discussions of the far right. The far right positions itself as the voice of reason, coolly rational, and ideas of caring for animal suffering is constructed to be emotional and soft. On the other hand, proveg*n arguments were also to be found on the forum. The study analyzes how the seemingly contradicting views of the far right and veg*nism coexist on the far right online discussion forum, Hommaforum.