Title of Presentation

Session J: Animals, Immigrants, and Refugees: Investigating Meat Production in the Muslim Diaspora

Sub-theme

Research and Theory

Keywords

meat, slaughter, refugee, Muslim

Start Date

13-10-2018 9:00 AM

End Date

13-10-2018 10:15 AM

Abstract

Controversy has erupted in Europe and North America with the increasing demand for halal food choices to accommodate the Muslim population. But when public schools, prisons, hospitals and other institutions with significant Muslim populations have introduced halal meals as cost-saving measures, accommodating Muslim dietary requirements whilst continuing to serve others with appropriate meals, non-Muslims are objecting to the consumption of halal meat. Many of these objections focus on slaughtering practices connected with halal meat production, viewing them as inappropriate, inhumane, and even barbaric. However the discourse surrounding the serving of halal meat in public institutions goes beyond concerns with slaughter methods. The halal food controversies reveal a kind of Muslim panic in which public provision of halal food is connected with anxiety over “creeping Islamicization” of schools and society. A right-wing Swedish politician notoriously asserted that eating halal food would lead to taking on the Muslim religion. In a number of countries (Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland), halal slaughter is prohibited. An old slaughter law affecting both Muslim and Jewish meat production was recently resurrected in Holland, recalling the Nazi prohibition of Kosher slaughterhouses. The association of Muslims with inhumane slaughter practices becomes a means of separating the civilized from the barbaric, and Muslims, represented as people without appropriate concerns with animal welfare, are cast as illiberal subjects.

In conjunction with investigating the Islamaphobic discourses surrounding the association of Muslims with “inhumane slaughter,” this essay considers the place of slaughterhouse workers and their role in producing the line between animal and not-animal, civilized and barbaric. Recent reports affirm that a disproportionate number of refugees are employed as slaughterhouse workers, both legally and illegally. What does it mean that the refugee (often Muslim), a subject whose claims to “bare life” are tenuous, performs the work of rendering animal into meat for the western consumer? What does killing the animal mean for a subject who is outside the political, outside citizenry, subject to systems of classification, bodily internment, corporeal processing, like the factory-farmed animal?

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Oct 13th, 9:00 AM Oct 13th, 10:15 AM

Session J: Animals, Immigrants, and Refugees: Investigating Meat Production in the Muslim Diaspora

Controversy has erupted in Europe and North America with the increasing demand for halal food choices to accommodate the Muslim population. But when public schools, prisons, hospitals and other institutions with significant Muslim populations have introduced halal meals as cost-saving measures, accommodating Muslim dietary requirements whilst continuing to serve others with appropriate meals, non-Muslims are objecting to the consumption of halal meat. Many of these objections focus on slaughtering practices connected with halal meat production, viewing them as inappropriate, inhumane, and even barbaric. However the discourse surrounding the serving of halal meat in public institutions goes beyond concerns with slaughter methods. The halal food controversies reveal a kind of Muslim panic in which public provision of halal food is connected with anxiety over “creeping Islamicization” of schools and society. A right-wing Swedish politician notoriously asserted that eating halal food would lead to taking on the Muslim religion. In a number of countries (Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland), halal slaughter is prohibited. An old slaughter law affecting both Muslim and Jewish meat production was recently resurrected in Holland, recalling the Nazi prohibition of Kosher slaughterhouses. The association of Muslims with inhumane slaughter practices becomes a means of separating the civilized from the barbaric, and Muslims, represented as people without appropriate concerns with animal welfare, are cast as illiberal subjects.

In conjunction with investigating the Islamaphobic discourses surrounding the association of Muslims with “inhumane slaughter,” this essay considers the place of slaughterhouse workers and their role in producing the line between animal and not-animal, civilized and barbaric. Recent reports affirm that a disproportionate number of refugees are employed as slaughterhouse workers, both legally and illegally. What does it mean that the refugee (often Muslim), a subject whose claims to “bare life” are tenuous, performs the work of rendering animal into meat for the western consumer? What does killing the animal mean for a subject who is outside the political, outside citizenry, subject to systems of classification, bodily internment, corporeal processing, like the factory-farmed animal?