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Death in the wrong place? Emotional geographies of the UK 2001 foot and mouth disease epidemic.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date01/2005
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Journal number1
Volume21
Number of pages11
Pages99-109
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In this paper, we draw on the concept of ‘lifescape’ (Somé and McSweeney, ILEIA Newsletter, ETC Leusden, The Netherlands, 1996; Howorth, Rebuilding the Local Landscape, Ashgate, Aldershot, 1999) to capture the spatial, emotional and ethical dimensions of the relationship between landscape, livestock and farming community and to elucidate the heterogeneity of agricultural emotional landscapes. In so doing, we illustrate complex and contradictory spatial, emotional and ethical relations between humans and non-humans. Farm animals may exist simultaneously as ‘friends’ and sources of food, leading to a blurring of socially constructed categories such as ‘livestock’ and ‘pet’ (Holloway, J. Rural Stud. 17 (2001) 293). Livestock as ‘economic machines’ for converting roughage to meat, milk and by-products (Briggs and Briggs, Modern Breeds of Livestock, fourth ed., Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc., New York, 1980) represents one strand of these relations; the sight of farmers crying and farm animals being blessed during the 2001 Cumbrian foot and mouth outbreak, yet another. As (Franklin, Anthropology Today 17 (3) (2001) 3) indicates, ‘the farmer weeping beside the blazing pyre of dead sheep is a complex portrait of a breach in the relationships between animals and humans’. By drawing on experiences of the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic, for farmers and the wider rural community in North Cumbria, we try to articulate the ambiguities of this breach.