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


  • Helena Pedersen Malmö University


activism, indeterminacy, ethology, knowledge production, pigs


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.

Author Biography

Helena Pedersen, Malmö University

Helena Pedersen currently works as a research fellow at Malmö University, Sweden. She holds a Ph.D. in Education from Gothenburg University. She conducts research in the intersection of critical education theory, critical animal studies, and posthumanism, and has taught animal studies at Lund University, Uppsala University, Karolinska Institute, Valand School of Fine arts, and Gothenburg University. Her present research project explores how posthumanist theory development reconfigures education theory and practice.


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Invited papers