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date: 10 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

A discrepancy exists between the legal and perceived status of livestock. Legally, food animals are property, but their thing-like status is unstable and does not determine how they are perceived in practice. The extent to which food animals are regarded as commodities or sentient beings is therefore contextually contingent, oscillates, and is riddled with inconsistency. To understand livestock as a sentient commodity is to attend to, and (re)contextualize, the contradictory and changeable nature of the perceived status of commodified animals in food animal productive contexts, and to how stockpeople experience and manage this perceptual paradox in practice. Bringing to the fore the relatively mundane aspect of human-livestock relations not only upsets commonly held assumptions that productive animals are nothing more than mere commodities, it also highlights the non-productive aspects of stockpeople’s roles that have, to date, been typically overlooked or underexplored.

Keywords: sentient commodity, perceptual paradox, food animals, human-livestock interactions, stockpeople

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