Monday workshop
Monday, February 18, 2013 (All day)

337 Cohen Hall

Tiago Saraiva, Drexel University

"Fascist Pigs and Genocidal Sheep: Genetics, Industrialized Organisms, and the History of Fascism"

Abstract: This talk explores the development of industrialized organisms by academic breeders and their role in the institutionalization and expansion of fascist regimes in Germany, Italy, and Portugal. The narrative follows the circulation of hogs and sheep from the closed space of scientific institutions into the landscape. It contends that the standardization of such organisms was crucial to undertake the battle of production in the early stages of the Nazi regime, as well as to design expansion colonial projects in Eastern Europe and Africa. Emblematic themes of fascist ideology, such as ‘rootedness in the soil’ and Lebensraum, are treated in non-conventional manner by looking at animals embodying these ideas. The efforts of rooting German peasants in the national soil are related through academic breeders’ efforts to develop hogs fed exclusively with products from the German soil. These are the fascist pigs of the title, industrialized organisms embodying fascism.

Karakul sheep illuminate the violent stories of frontier settlement in the three fascist empires. The ability of Karakul to thrive under harsh environmental conditions and its high value in the fur market made it a perfect companion species for white settler’s imperial expansion. The Animal Breeding Institute at the University of Halle is taken as a center of circulation establishing standards and producing the rams to be used not only in white settlers farms ran by the SS in German possessions in Eastern Europe, but also in Italian settlement schemes in Libya and Ethiopia, and in Portuguese colonization of South-western Angola. By searching the work of academic breeders at Halle it is thus possible to explore the significance of the frontier experience for the three fascist regimes.