Unstable Mixtures: Zooethnographic Educational Relations as Difference, Contagion, Critique, and Potential

Helena Pedersen


This essay approaches educational alternatives from a specific case study: an unrealised student project, designed as an unconventional ethno-graphic/ethological field study with pigs in a commercial slaughter swine facility. I begin with an interview-based account of the student’s own version of what happened with her project proposal in the process that led to its final disapproval by her university. Then I provide a speculative scenario, created as the not-yet-realised possibility of the project and outlined as if it had been carried out. In the end I discuss different meanings “education” takes on in the two accounts and ask how species-, scientific-, and ethical difference may come together as organisers of education theory and practice affecting both humans and animals. The essay suggests that an analysis ending not with conventional, evidence-based research “results,” but rather with an “unstable mixture” (Bergen, 2010) of actual events and unrealised educational possibilities, creates a space to critically rethink institutional, intersubjective, and interspecies educational relationships.


activism, indeterminacy, ethology, knowledge production, pigs

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