Project information: Urban ecologies, chickens, and covid-19

In 2020, during the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK, interest in domestic chicken-keeping sky-rocketed, expediting trends that have seen increasing numbers of people re-homing chickens in recent years, notably in urban areas. The demand for chickens is potentially linked to the threat to food security, as well as to people having more time during lockdown. In December 2020, an avian influenza outbreak meant that all birds have to be kept indoors for the foreseeable future. In this research, I will explore how the colliding of these outbreaks has produced new relationships between humans and chickens. In online interviews with domestic chicken-keepers in London, I will explore: (1) the choice to live with chickens during a global (human) pandemic; (2) how people have transformed their domestic space to home chickens; and (3) how both Covid-19 and the avian influenza outbreak has produced new understandings of chickens for their humans.

I am looking for chicken-keepers who live in London and the surrounding areas who either already lived with chickens, or began keeping chickens during Covid-19. I am interested in understanding how your domestic space is transformed by the chickens, as well as the practices and everyday activities you undertake. I am also interested in how Covid-19 and avian influenza has affected you and your chickens.

Participants would be expected to undertake an interview (lasting up to 60 minutes) via video call or telephone. Times and dates are flexible. All our conversations will be private, and data will be anonymised. You will be able to withdraw from the study at any time. Any questions can be directed to Catherine at CO419@cam.ac.uk or on twitter @katiecmoliver.

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge. My research is funded by Dr. Maan Barua’s European Research Council grant on ‘Urban Ecologies’ which looks at non-human life in the city. More about me can be found on this website and at my university profile (https://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/people/oliver/). I also had the pleasure of living with six chickens for several years Lacey, Bluebell, Winnie, Primrose, Olive, and Cleo (pictured below) and I am very excited at the prospect to talk with people about their chickens!

This research will form part of a wider project into urban chicken-keeping, for which in-person fieldwork has been delayed due to Covid-19 and avian influenza.

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