Kathryn Gillespie PhD (kathrynagillespie.com) is a writer, multispecies ethnographer, & feminist geographer. She is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Kentucky in the Department of Geography & the Applied Environmental & Sustainability Studies Program. Her research & teaching interests focus on: ethnography & qualitative methods; feminist & multi-species theory & methods; food & agriculture; political economy; critical animal studies; human-environment relations. She is the author of The Cow with Ear Tag #1389. She has also published in numerous scholarly journals & has co-edited three books: Vulnerable Witness: The Politics of Grief in the Field; Critical Animal Geographies: Politics, Intersections and Hierarchies in a Multispecies World; and Economies of Death: Economic Logics of Killable Life & Grievable Death. Kathryn has volunteered with Freedom Education Project Puget Sound, Food Empowerment Project and Pigs Peace Sanctuary.
In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”
01:15 Kathryn’s Intro
- Understanding the harms animals experience under capitalist & settler colonial regimes, particularly in food systems
- “Bringing individual animals into the frame”
- Field work in farms & auction yards “spaces of exploitation”
- Sanctuaries: Seeing the lasting harms of exploitation but also “places to imagine flourishing” & rehabilitation
- Multi-species auto-ethnography. Everyday violence & care
- Living w/chickens “turned us vegan” & lab-rescued beagles
- Academia & activism
07:52 What’s Real?
- Raised somewhat in the Episcopal church
- “That just did not resonate with me”
- Visiting Baptist churches “that was incredible… a joyful explosion of faith”
- A Buddhist grandmother & “Living Buddha, Living Christ” by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Practising Tibetan Buddhism as a teenager
- Buddhist compassion & Episcopalian blessing of animals on St. Francis’ day
- Supernatural vs. naturalistic Buddhism “The supernatural stuff never appealed to me”
- Envying the pure, comforting faith of a fundamentalist Christian best friend
- Compassion for the other or because god tells you?
- Pagan & Wiccan practics
- People re-connecting with nature during COVID
- The etymology of “real” in Latin/Sanksrit from “wealth”… the capitalisation/commodification of life
- Emotional, embodied, lived experiences re: meaning, connection & knowledge making. Another form of evidence
32:10 What Matters?
- Leftist, social justice activist parents. Protests & community work (Anti-war, anti-nuclear, feminist, black empowerment)
- Compassion, justice, fairness
37:16 Who Matters?
- A meat-eating family, but caring for wild animals “let’s appreciate this being for who they are”
- “Out of sight, out of mind” for non-humans but universal rights for all humans
- Learning about animals in the food system
- “Humane” animal farming
- Raising backyard chickens “I love these 4 chicks” & buying a dead chicken for food “It was so disturbing… that was the beginning…”
- Volunteering at sanctuaries
- Eco/biocentrism… attending to plants?
- Plant sentience/thinking?
- Should we default to granting consideration or not?
- Understanding crows w/out harmful research
- “Do we need to know the specifics of other beings’ experience in order to treat them with respect? No!”
- Animal academics that eat them
- Curiosity, intellect, empathy as ways into animal ethics
- Films: Cow, Gunda
- Scope neglect. David Wolfson: “It’s 1 & 1 & 1” (not just 78bn)
- “The edge of sanity… encountering the scale of violence against animals”
- Cognitive dissonance
- Too much anthropomorphism “strips animals of their animality”. Need humility
- Imagining being a dairy cow
- Orca carrying her dead calf… “beyond grief”?
- Maslow/Kaufman @The Psychology Podcast needs catalogues
- “Farming, in any format, curtails the most fundamental needs/interests”
1:24:40 How Can We Make a Better World?
- Grandmother: “God made animals for us to eat”
- Phasing out animal farming
- Multi-species climate justice
- Reproductive justice (insemination, separation, spay & neuter)
- Reproduction & childcare as part of animal flourishing
- Taking sanctuaries from the exception to the default
- Capitalism: “I think we just need to burn it down” but “I don’t think we have it [the alternative] yet”
- The drive to minimise cost of labour was a driver of slavery
- “Humane” farming limits “you’re going to slaughter them”.
Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info.
Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook.
Thanks Graham for the post-production.