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Ad hoc support : Anim’Art

Animals. The Invisibles of Work

Work Animals Circus arts Culture Cooperation
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Our working relationships with animals are currently being radically challenged by some actors. Animals have become a major issue of contemporary mobilisation. Any working relationship with them, be it farm animals, circus animals, zoo animals, therapy animals, etc., is said to be exploitative and domineering. For the good of animals, we should therefore "free" them and live without them. No more breeding, no more shows with animals. Replace animals by substitutes (in vitro meat) or by artefacts (holograms, robots, etc.). These representations of working with animals as inevitable domination are based on the undeniable reality of violence against animals in animal production and the permanence of abuse in many work situations. Nevertheless, our premise is that the problem lies less in the essence of our relationship with animals than in the living and working conditions imposed on them[1]. Thus, animal husbandry is not in itself violence towards animals, on the contrary, its primary rationality is based on the search for bonds and affects. What is violence towards animals is the utilitarian and instrumental relationship to farm animals constructed by the industrialisation of animal husbandry. But ’breeding’ and ’animal production’ belong to two different, even opposed, worlds[2].

2] The same is true for other situations involving work with animals. The circus is currently being pilloried because it engages "wild" animals in its work, not just domestic animals, and because in many work situations, the living conditions of these animals are poor. But is it the circus itself that is at fault? What is "wild" in an animal, the species or the individual? What sense does it make to call an animal socialised with humans "wild"? Is it not rather the organisation of work with animals that needs to be reviewed and the very meaning of the work that is done with them[3]?
[1] Jocelyne Porcher, Jean Estebanez (eds). Animal labor: a new perspective on human-animal relations. Transcript Verlag/Columbia University Press, 2019
[2] Jocelyne Porcher. Breeders and animals, reinventing the link. PUF, 2002
[3] Charlène Dray, Jocelyne Porcher. Animal labour in the circus: a problem of exploitation or staging? Le cirque dans l’univers, Le Club du cirque, 2020, pp.24-27

Project Number : 2100-008

Year : 2021

Type of funding : SP

Project type : PC

Research units in the network : MOISA

Start date :
01 Mar 2021

End date :
30 Sep 2022

Flagship project :

Project leader :
Jocelyne Porcher

Project leader's institution :

Project leader's RU :

Budget allocated :
5000 €

Total budget allocated ( including co-financing) :
5000 €

Funding :