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Beyond resistance: geographies of divergent more-than-human conduct in robotic milking

Holloway, Lewis; Bear, Christopher


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Professor Lewis Holloway
Professor of Human Geography, Director of Research (School of Environmental Science), Chair of the Faculty of Science and Engineering Ethics Committee

Christopher Bear


This paper begins to develop a terminology for discussing less-than-convivial more-than-human entanglements. The paper reviews existing work on such relations, showing how they tend to have been conceptualised in terms of animal transgression and resistance. It then develops critiques of these terms, focusing on their problematic representations of animals' actions and subjectivities, and engaging with arguments that non-living nonhumans also need to be considered in conceptualisations of problematic more-than-human situations. Drawing on empirical material from research into automated (or robotic) milking systems (AMS), and the associated relations between machines, humans and cows in specific places, the paper proposes and outlines the concept of divergent conduct. It argues that this is a way of exploring how heterogeneous entities co-produce activity which is likely to differ from accounts of trouble-free introductions of technologies and practices. The concept draws together an emphasis on the 'lively' nature of machines with a focus on the agency of nonhuman animals and the topological relationships involved in attempts to establish AMS in UK dairy farming. It suggests that the characteristics and capacities of heterogeneous entities make multiple and relational differences to situations. As such, the concept emphasises the constitution of AMS in relation to multiple human and nonhuman requirements, and their related conducts, which may pull in different directions. The paper argues that divergent conduct provides a way of exploring problematic and politicised entanglements in which inequalities of power can be many-layered and intersectional.


Holloway, L., & Bear, C. (2019). Beyond resistance: geographies of divergent more-than-human conduct in robotic milking. Geoforum, 104, 212-221.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 30, 2019
Online Publication Date May 7, 2019
Publication Date 2019-08
Deposit Date Apr 30, 2019
Publicly Available Date May 8, 2021
Journal Geoforum
Print ISSN 0016-7185
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 104
Pages 212-221
Keywords Resistance; Transgression; Divergent conduct; More-than-human; Topologies; Robotic milking
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Publisher URL
Additional Information ©2019, Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license


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