UCL Anthropocene


POSTPONED: Animal Scales series: Scale Multiple, with Dinesh Wadiwel

08 July 2024, 10:00 am–12:00 pm

Stray Cat 03 by Sami Ucan

The final seminar in the Animal Scales series, with Dinesh Wadiwel (School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney)

This event is free.

Event Information

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Mariam Motamedi Fraser

POSTPONED: Please note this will no longer take place on July 8th. A new date is currently tbc.

Online, Zoom

In the opening pages of the first volume of Capital, Marx observes that capitalism appears, in its totality, as a mass accumulation of commodities. We might similarly observe that in a similar way, animals appear today as mass of living commodities, that are endlessly being multiplied. In this paper, I explore the implications of the vast scale of this multiplication of animal life which has been general tendency of capitalist agriculture. As I argue, this multiplication has served different purposes. Animals are made available as raw materials and labour to enable the overproduction of animal-based foods as a means of generating surplus. Simultaneously, the mass availability of consumption commodities as a result of this production has systematically altered food supplies and the means by which humans reproduce their own labour. I will finally explore the material relations that sit behind this multiplication of animal life: regimes of mass forced reproduction which are a central component of the biopolitics of capitalist animal agriculture. In this context, not only does capitalism demand the over-production of animals, it by necessity demands the overproduction of animals who will perform the gestational labour of producing animal life. While much animal rights advocacy has been focused on legal ‘personhood’, I will argue that the singular right of animals to refuse this gestational labour is a key tactical goal. If animals had the right to refuse the violence of forced insemination and the gestational work of reproducing the animal labour force of capitalism, then this is the end of animal agriculture.


Dinesh Joseph Wadiwel is Associate Professor in human rights and socio-legal studies at University of Sydney. He is author of Animals and Capital (Edinburgh UP, 2023), The War against Animals (Brill, 2015) and is co-editor, with Matthew Chrulew of Foucault and Animals (Brill 2017). He is also co-editor of Animals in the Anthropocene: Critical Perspectives on Non-Human Futures (Sydney UP). He is a member of the Multispecies Justice research group at the University of Sydney, and past Chair of the Australasian Animal Studies Association. In addition, Dinesh is a disability rights researcher, and has recently been part of a team of researchers who have produced two reports for the Australian Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Respondent: Kathryn Gillespie, PhD, is a writer, multispecies ethnographer, and feminist geographer. Her research and teaching interests focus on multispecies ethnography/autoethnography theory and methods, feminist animal studies, and human-environment relations, with a particular focus on animals in the food system. She is the author of The Cow with Ear Tag #1389 (University of Chicago Press, 2018), a book about the lives of cows in the US dairy industry. She has also published in numerous scholarly journals and has co-edited three books: Vulnerable Witness: The Politics of Grief in the Field (University of California Press, 2018, co-edited with Patricia J. Lopez); Critical Animal Geographies: Politics, Intersections and Hierarchies in a Multispecies World (Routledge, 2015, co-edited with Rosemary-Claire Collard); and Economies of Death: Economic Logics of Killable Life and Grievable Death (Routledge, 2015, co-edited with Patricia J. Lopez). She is currently finishing her next book, The Sound of Feathers: Haunting and Bearing Witness in Multispecies Worlds.

This seminar is part of the Animal Scales series, co-hosted by UCL Anthropocene and the Centre for Critical Global Change, Goldsmiths.

Seminar series: Animal Scales

From Aristotle's scala naturae, to the vast scales of animal agriculture, to moral scales, determined by cognitive scales: animal lives have and continue to be shaped by different kinds of scales and their positions on them. Scales enact, authorise, and justify possible relations with animals, including deathly scales of comparison. But scales are neither fixed nor unchanging, and in the context of increasingly complex, multi-dimensional and multi-temporal analyses of environmental catastrophe, numerous, often novel, scales are proliferating. How do animal scales come into existence? Are animals themselves 'scale-makers' and, if so, can they disrupt the pre-scaled objects of knowledge that support the division of academic labour? If animals operate at scale (collective migration, collective thinking), how do they also resist it? This seminar series asks after the disciplinary, theoretical, methodological, empirical, political, ethical, and legal implications of thinking animals in and through scale.

Full series dates:

Animal Scales poster with dates


Maan Barua; Department of Geography, Cambridge
5.00-7.00 pm, 20 February
Location: UCL, IAS Forum, South Wing, Wilkins Building.
Register here


Dr. iur. Charlotte Blattner, LL.M. (Harvard); Institute of Public Law, University of Berne
5.00-7.00 pm, 21 March
Location: UCL, Room BO5, Darwin Building.
Register here


Screening of the documentary film Cow (2021, UK, MUBI & US IFC films), and discussion with Director, Andrea Arnold. Respondent and chair: Anat Pick, School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, Queen Mary, London.
3.30-7.00 pm, 23 April
Location: Goldsmiths, Small Cinema, Richard Hoggart Building
Register here


Éric Baratay; Department of History, Université Jean-Moulin, Lyon.
5.00-7.00pm, 24 May
Location TBA
Register here


Will Kymlicka and Sue Donaldson; Department of Philosophy, Queen’s University, Canada
5.00-7.00pm, 19 June
On-line (Zoom)
Register here


Dinesh Wadiwel; School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney
10.00-12.00a.m., 8 July
On-line (Zoom)
Register here

For more information, please contact Mariam Motamedi Fraser (m.motamedi-fraser@gold.ac.uk)

Image: "Stray Cat 03" by Sami Ucan (@sami_ucan)