The 2020 Iain McCalman Lecture

Swinging the pendulum towards the politics of production: animal-based food and environmental justice.

Dr Wadiwel will explore the impact of animal agriculture on climate, planetary health and justice, and the issues with focusing on individualised responsibility, rather than structural and institutional reform.

“Animal-based foods are an increasing source of global concern due to their climate impact. There are now almost daily calls from scientists for humans to reduce their consumption of meat and dairy products, and an increased interest in vegetarian and vegan diets. However, so far, many of these demands for change call for consumers to make individual choices, rather than exploring the institutional or structural drivers of growing per capita meat and dairy consumption. This talk seeks to swing the pendulum of public discussion from the politics of consumption towards the politics of production.

A key focus will be seeking to understand the global “metabolism” of the historically unprecedented expansion of animal-based foods under capitalism.  The industrialisation of production within the context of capitalist economies has led to the mass production of animal foods as a source of profit, producing deep environmental impacts, and simultaneously exposing trillions of animals annually to the violence of intensified farming and fishing. This talk will highlight that thinking about production, rather than consumption, allows us to explore the way the economies and institutions might be enlisted to create a “just transition” away from industrial animal agriculture.”

The Iain McCalman Lecture, created by Michelle St Anne, celebrates SEI co-founder and former co-director Iain McCalman’s generous and compassionate spirit, and his dedication to fostering and pioneering multidisciplinary environmental research. The lectures aim to highlight the work of early to mid-career researchers working across disciplinary boundaries to impact both scholarship and public discourse.

The inaugural lecture was held on February 6 2019, given by Dr Frances Flanagan, 2019 University of Sydney Fellow and research affiliate of the Sydney Environment Institute. Frances’ research investigates the past and future of work, environmentalism, gender and social change and her talk titled, ‘Climate change and the new work order’, explored how the workforce can become a site of social and ecological renewal.

This event was presented at the University of Sydney on Thursday 6 February 2020.

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Dinesh Wadiwel is a lecturer in human rights and socio-legal studies in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy and Director of the Master of Human Rights. Dr Wadiwel is also a research affiliate of the Sydney Environment Institute and a researcher on the SEI/FASS Multispecies Justice Initiative. He is currently writing a book exploring the relationship between animals and capitalism, building on his 2015 monograph, The War Against Animals.

Header image: Carlos Neto via Shutterstock ID: 1517215121