2022-23 Lloyd & Susanne Rudolph Field Research Fellow
Project Title: Pig People: an interspecies story of chimerical emergence
Over the course of the second half of the 20th century, scientific, economic, and agricultural enmeshments between the US and China enabled the emergence of the global grain-oilseed-livestock complex. Today, pigs are the lynchpin of the world’s livestock industry, making up 40% of global meat consumption by the pound. Around half of the world’s present pig production and consumption occurs in the PRC, reliant on methods of production largely developed and owned by US/UK based agribusinesses. However, the “purebreds” that Chinese industrial pig farmers now purchase at a premium from these businesses are in fact derived from Sino-European hybrids created in England, Sweden, and Denmark during the late 1800’s to meet the year-round demand of the industrializing meat market—hybrids whose qualities of accelerated reproduction were derived from that of their Chinese ancestors.1 So how did Chinese and American people end up eating the same pig? My project explores this question by tracing the emergence, circulation, and consumption of three iconic pigs: the American-scientific lean-meat hog, the Maoist “fertilizer factory,” and the chimerical CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) pig.
niu teo is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago (History, 2018). They are writing a history of the global pig.
Read more at their department profile: https://history.uchicago.edu/directory/niu-teo