337 Cohen Hall
(Please bring a photo ID with you in order to enter the building.)
Julie Livingston, Professor of History and Cultural Analysis, New York University
Cattle/Beef -- Health, Development, and Self-Consuming Growth in Botswana
This talk takes up the interplay between the health of cattle and that of humans in Botswana as a way of accounting for competing modes of reckoning future health under the sign of development. Cattle, the ur-category of wealth, and the basis of ritual, have always been central figures in Tswana political, social, and economic life. As modes of affiliation and patronage, technologies of metaphysical and material production, and aesthetic beings of tremendous regard, cattle have always been necessary to creating futures. But since independence, they’ve been disenchanted, rendered as beef. Through the rise of the beef industry within the developmental state, cattle have become figures of economic development, the subject of intense technoscientific management, and for many Europeans who consume Tswana beef as well as their Batswana counterparts, a more regular part of the diet. The talk considers the health effects of the transformation from cattle to beef – from the slow draining of the water table from cattle-watering boreholes, to the emission of methane and carbon, to the long term effects of regular meat consumption manifest in hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. Ultimately the paper asks what does it mean to build a future around cattle as a mode of affiliation as versus beef as a mode of growth?