Joanna Sierks Smith
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationNorth Carolina, Chapel Hill, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9873
Approve DateMay 8, 2019
Project TitleSmith, Joanna (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) "Prohibition, Transgression, and the Configuration of Bodies at the Modern Slaughterhouse"
JOANNA SMITH, then a graduate student at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was awarded funding in May 2019 to aid research on ‘Prohibition, Transgression, and the Configuration of Bodies at the Modern Slaughterhouse,’ supervised by Todd Ram’n Ochoa. Funding allowed the grantee to spend September 2019 – August 2020 conducting dissertation research on North Carolina’s pork industry. The goal of this research was to explore the mechanisms of secrecy and the cycle of prohibitions (social, legal, and regulatory) and transgressions that have pulled the act of killing out of public life and contained it within the modern slaughterhouse. During fieldwork, the grantee visited slaughterhouses, watching the work of killing and building relationships with owners, inspectors, and workers; spent time with farmers, retailers, hunters, homesteaders, restauranteurs, vegan activists, and butchers; worked at a butchery; participated in on-farm slaughters; and attended vigils at slaughterhouses. When COVID-19 struck, on-site research inside slaughterhouses came to a halt. However, the grantee continued to closely observe the discourse and practices around slaughter through their established relationships with interlocutors and through the news, and continued to spend time on farms. This period of fieldwork afforded valuable insights into the development of the slaughterhouse as a mechanism of containment, as well as into the role that slaughtering practice plays in configuring sociality.