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Pandemic Entanglements: The Political Ecology of Industrial Meat Production in the “Pandemic Era”

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About the project

Short name: PANDEMEAT

Duration: 2021-2025

Future pandemics will emerge more often, spread more rapidly, and destroy more lives and economies unless there is transformative change in high-risk activities like globalized industrial livestock production, warn leading global experts associated with the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Our objective is to develop a pioneering political ecology approach to illuminate the role and impacts of industrial meat production in the context of this “Pandemic Era”. Amongst numerous recent pathogenic outbreaks, a
devastating global avian pandemic is unfolding, and European countries and industries are not exempt. Industry actors attempt to adapt and remain profitable, yet they face an unruly nature, from wild birds to bacteria, as well as
the shifting interests of States and broader public. This project will be the first political ecology investigation of these unfolding developments.

We identify Norway and Denmark as unstudied cases where we will conduct a fieldwork based study of responses to and framings of the drivers and impacts of pandemics among regulators, industry leaders, farmers, and processing plant workers. Building upon recent calls for interdisciplinary social science that is empirically grounded yet theoretically ambitious enough to capture the complex relationships between industrial meat production and the Pandemic Era, this project will mobilize the conceptual toolkits of political ecology, geography and agrarian studies to push this research frontier. Conceptualizing industrial poultry production as a
particular organization of society, nature and interspecies relations in globalized capitalism, we seek to understand how past and ongoing pandemics reshape the entanglements of these aspects and the futures of all species
embroiled in it. We will thus more fully illuminate the complexity of the Pandemic Era to enable the required transformative change.


Main objective is to develop a pioneering political ecology approach to industrial meat production in the context of the Pandemic Era.


Time frame: 4 years, from October 2021 through October 2025

Participating departments: Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM); University of Oslo;  Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen 

Theoretical basis / home fields: Social Geography, Social Anthropology, Political Ecology, Agrarian Studies

Methods: Mixed methods, including primary method of multisited fieldwork in Norway and Denmark, iteratively mapping “chains, paths, threads, conjunctions”  along the routes of poultry meat commodities and infrastructures within and between sites.


12,000,000 NOK, funded by the Research Council of Norway.

Published Oct. 12, 2021 2:51 PM - Last modified Oct. 5, 2022 9:17 AM