Publication Date

April 2017


Lori Gruen, Kathryn Gillespie


English (United States)


The purpose of this project is to trouble the recent movement back to small-scale farming and pose sanctuary as a moral alternative to animal agriculture. “Small, humane, family farming” is glorified as a preferable alterative to industrialized “factory” farming, which has been widely criticized for its disregard for human and nonhuman well-being as well as its environmental impact. However, I argue that small-scale farming perpetuates violence and oppression through the farm space itself as well as the values associated with it. Instead, I propose sanctuary as the ideal space for formerly farmed nonhumans. I categorize farmed animal sanctuaries as Type I, II, III, and IV, and discuss how “lesser” types can limit resident well-being and agency and perpetuate oppressive “small farming” structures and values. Finally, I describe how Type IV sanctuary spaces are revolutionary in that they subvert particular capitalist logics and narratives of “justified” domination, exploitation, and use of nonhumans. I argue that Type IV sanctuary offers a radical reworking of our relationships with and conceptions of formerly farmed nonhumans. In order to conduct research for this project, I interned at VINE Sanctuary in Springfield, Vermont, during May and June of 2016, as well as Funny Farm Rescue Animal Sanctuary in Mays Landing, New Jersey in July and August of 2016. The research I did not conduct in person was done through exploring sanctuary and small farming websites and blogs, industry information, writing of those involved in small farming, and writing of small farming proponents. My research allowed me to compare different sanctuary spaces and contrast sanctuary to small-scale animal agriculture. This project is significant to the field of critical animal studies because while extensive critical work has been done on factory farming, the same cannot be said for small-scale farming; instead, small farming is often seen as a positive solution. In this project, I provide a critical analysis of small-scale animal agriculture through a liberationist perspective. Furthermore, I offer a critical analysis of farmed animal sanctuary, adding to the growing academic knowledge about sanctuary.



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