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Visualising human-animal-technology relations: fieldnotes, still photography and digital video on the robotic dairy farm

Bear, Christopher, Wilkinson, Katy and Holloway, Lewis 2017. Visualising human-animal-technology relations: fieldnotes, still photography and digital video on the robotic dairy farm. Society and Animals 25 (3) , pp. 225-256. 10.1163/15685306-12341405

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This paper explores the potential for developing less anthropocentric approaches to researching human-nonhuman relations through visual ethnography, critically examining the potential for conceptualising nonhuman animals as participants. Arguing that method in “more-than-human geography” and animal studies has developed at a slower pace than theory, it proposes visual approaches as a means through which to foreground the behaviour and actions of nonhuman animals in social research. This challenges underlying anthropocentric assumptions of visual ethnography, questioning the meaning of “participation” in visual research. The paper presents a comparison of approaches used in studying practices of robotic milking on dairy farms in the UK. Specifically, it compares the qualities of field notes, still photography and digital video in focusing on particular sites, moments and movements of robotic milking. While visual approaches are not a panacea for more-than-human research, we suggest that they do offer a means through which nonhumans might “speak for themselves” in social research. Rather than presenting definitive accounts, the inclusion of video in such work not only illustrates arguments but also leaves the actions of nonhumans open to further interpretation; the centrality of the researcher is destabilised.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
S Agriculture > SF Animal culture
Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers
ISSN: 1063-1119
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 April 2016
Date of Acceptance: 6 May 2014
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 17:35

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