beyond species podcast: vegan geographies and embodied politics

At the end of September, Steve (the wonderful host of beyond species podcast) reached out to me to be a guest on the second series of his podcast, which recently won a Vegfund grant to cover the costs of hosting and production. I spoke with Steve on the podcast in mid-October and this is now live both on the beyond species website, Spotify and iTunes. True to form, I managed to talk for over an hour so hopefully there is a natural pause somewhere in the middle to take a break (sorry!).

It was my first time on any podcast and the experience was really positive. Fortunately, I am a fan of beyond species anyway, and regularly listen to episodes when I am running or going for a walk. I like the open and flowing style of conversation, and really appreciated the preliminary conversations and preparation to ease my stage fright and make it a comfortable and interesting experience!

In the podcast I discuss both my PhD research, which I finished earlier this year and my new research at the University of Cambridge with the Urban Ecologies team. I introduced myself as a vegan and ran through an overview of animal geographies, critical animal geographies and vegan geographies. Then, I moved into chatting about my work with The British Library in the archives of Richard D. Ryder, and critiquing the attempts at revisionist history that erases women’s and feminist contributions. I also chatted about my interviews with vegans that I undertook in 2018, particularly focussing on embodied interspecies empathy, the role of ‘truth’ in veganism and the focus on education of self and others. Inevitably, this led to me talking about ideas of purity and authenticity in veganism, and how the movement is being co-opted by ‘healthism’ attitudes, especially heightened in social media influencer-activist culture, which has a tendency to simplify veganism and reproduce norms of whiteness and maleness as the status quo.

I chatted about my ongoing work with chickens, which began at the end of my PhD, and now will be continuing hopefully getting to the field in early 2021 to work with chickens and their re-homers in London. In particular, I am interested in the cultivation of space by and for chickens in the city. I chatted about the potential harms of keeping backyard chickens for eggs as not a different form of violence but potentially one of a different intensity. I also relate this to issues around who gets to create these spaces: who gets to own a home? Who gets to have outdoor space in the city? Who has the privilege to live with animals? These are questions inevitably entangled with class, race, gender, and capitalism, which led me to think out loud about how we might imagine different multispecies spaces being entangled wiht anti-capitalist praxis.

Finally, Steve asked me ‘what would good anti-speciesist advocacy look like?’ to which I tried to formulate an answer focussing on nuance and interconneced issues and this, for me, actually aligns very closely with the aims of the podcast: to move beyond species. To pay attention to other scales, to other geographies, and to other ways of living together.

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