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Contesting Genetic Knowledge-Practices in Livestock Breeding: Biopower, Biosocial Collectivities, and Heterogeneous Resistances

Holloway, Lewis; Morris, Carol


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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

Carol Morris


Cattle and sheep breeders in the UK and elsewhere increasingly draw on genetic techniques in order to make breeding decisions. Many breeders support such techniques, while others argue against them for a variety of reasons, including their preference for the ‘traditions' of visual-based and pedigree-based selections. Meanwhile, even for those institutions and breeders who promote genetic techniques, the outcomes are not always as predicted. We build on our recent use of Foucault's discussions of biopower to examine the effects of the introduction of genetic techniques in UK livestock breeding in order to begin to explore the diffuse and capillary nature of resistance within relations of biopower. We focus specifically on how resistance and contestation can be understood through the joint lenses of biopower and an understanding of livestock breeding as knowledge-practices enacted within heterogeneous biosocial collectivities. In some instances these collectivities coalesce around shared endeavour, such as increasing the valency of genetic evaluation within livestock breeding. Yet such mixed collectivities also open up opportunities for counter-conduct: heterogeneous resistances to and contestations of genetic evaluation as something represented as progressive and inevitable. We focus on exploring such modes of resistance using detailed empirical research with livestock breeders and breeding institutions. We demonstrate how in different and specific ways geneticisation becomes problematised, and is contested and made more complex, through the knowledge-practices of breeders, the bodies of animals, and the complex relationships between different institutions in livestock breeding and rearing.


Holloway, L., & Morris, C. (2012). Contesting Genetic Knowledge-Practices in Livestock Breeding: Biopower, Biosocial Collectivities, and Heterogeneous Resistances. Environment and planning. D, Society & space, 30(1), 60-77.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 1, 2012
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Publicly Available Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal Environment and planning. D, Society and space
Print ISSN 0263-7758
Electronic ISSN 1472-3433
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 1
Pages 60-77
Keywords REF 2014 submission
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Authors' accepted manuscript of article published in: Environment and planning. D, Society and space, 2012, v.30, issue 1


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