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Against Animal Capitalism – Visibilizing Animality in Ecosocialism – Guest Lecture by Terike Haapoja, 4.3.

In this lecture, Haapoja will discuss key concepts of Marxist theory in the light of scholarship that attempts to include nonhuman animals in left political theory.

Image Credits: Terike Haapoja

Guest Lecturer: Terike Haapoja, Date: 4.3.2024, Time: 16.30 – 18.00 EET, K-350, Mylly – Academy of Fine Arts. The lecture will also be held online on Zoom: https://uniarts.zoom.us/j/65345338861

Despite its centrality to social transformation, animal agency often disappears behind generalised notions of “nature” in eco socialist discourses. Nonhuman animals have been a major terraforming force and a central arena of exploitation in the history of capitalism, embodying the enclosure of the commons, technological developments, transportation infrastructures, colonial warfare and models for (dis)assembly lines. The exploited wage labourer and the expropriated animal are created in the same act. This happens in parallel with the invention of racial science and colonisation, that use animalization as a mechanism to render populations available for exploitation. Capitalism as an institution of multispecies exploitation can thus only be confronted by a multispecies left politics. This requires unpacking the anthropocentric interpretations of Marxist theory that haunt left discourse. 

In this lecture, Haapoja will discuss key concepts of Marxist theory (primitive accumulation, species being, alienation, value, labour, commodification, resistance) in the light of scholarship that attempts to include nonhuman animals in left political theory. And will discuss the structural function of industrial animal agriculture to capitalist extraction across species, and how visibilising animality, animal labour and animal resistance is crucial for our understanding and dismantling of the paradigm. 


Terike Haapoja is an artist and researcher currently based in Berlin. Her interdisciplinary practice consists of installations, video work, writings and collaborations, with a focus on multispecies politics and ethical coexistence across differences. Her collaboration with the author Laura Gustafsson includes large scale projects that explore the anthropocentrism of western worldview, such as museum-size touring installations Museum of Nonhumanity (2016) and Museum of the History of Cattle (2013), or the utopian Museum of Becoming (2020). Her work has been exhibited in Venice Biennale, Momentum Biennale, Taipei Biennale, Helsinki Biennale as well as multiple solo and group exhibitions internationally, and has been awarded with the Guggenheim Fellowship (2022), ANTI prize for live art (2017) and the Finnish media art award (2016) among others. Since 2021 Haapoja has lead a reading group for the Marxist Education Project on animals and capitalism, and her current research on multispecies left politics can be found on animalcapitalism.org 


Karl Marx: Economic Manuscripts, Ch 26: Primitive Accumulation

Jason Hribal: Animals Are Part of the Working Class – A Challenge to Labour History

(Additional: Alyssa Battistoni: From Nature Capital to Hybrid Labour)

Bibliography and further readings: 

Ecological Thinking

This is the course blog for K-JI-11-23A – Ecological Thinking. In 2023-24, we explore “Vertical Ecologies” by visual arts, film and performance. The course is co-organized by Giovanna Esposito Yussif and Samir Bhowmik. Previously, in 2022-23, we organized a year-long collaborative research studio with Aarhus University, DK, Research Pavilion 2023 and Helsinki Biennial 2023 on the themes of environmental data, sensing and contamination.

Header image credit: Abelardo Gil-Fournier and Jussi Parikka / Seed, Image, Ground (2020)- With permission from the authors.

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