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Geography, Science, and Subjectivity: Farm Animal Welfare in the United States and Europe



In the US and Europe, factory farm animal welfare has become a matter of significant public concern, leading to increased scientific research on animal welfare in order to guide public policy. In both locations, scientific opinion is growing that farm animals’ welfare is directly related to their capacities for subjective experiences and, as a result, increased research is on cognition, behavior, and emotions. The geography of science and animal geography literatures have broadly examined, respectively but with overlap, the social construction of scientific knowledge and ideas about animal subjectivity. This article argues that these literatures should be further employed to better understand the current construction and social negotiation of the concept of farm animal welfare in Europe and particularly in the US, specifically through the exploration of three significant spaces of knowledge production: the geopolitical environments of the US and Europe, the particular scientific research spaces, and animal spaces or the “locations” of their subjectivity.