"Space, Time and Pig" Chapter (Faculty180)

cited authors

  • Nemeth, David J


  • While wild pigs in the early Holocene (begins 8000 BCE) were nimble, fierce combatants for agrarian humans, pigs-as-pork in the present Anthropocene (begins 1700 AD) have been reduced by humans to unhealthy indolents, awaiting slaughter in industrial factory farms. This article argues 1) by first drawing on personal observations of Sus scrofa on Cheju (Jeju) Island in South Korea, and 2) by deploying models of a) East Asian Neo-Confucian cosmology and b) the Western experience of changing pig-human relations in agro-ecosystems ranging from the Neolithic to the present Anthropocene, that pigs were perceived, valued and even respected “as-pigs” throughout the historic Holocene (begins 6000 BPE) and thus long prior to the Anthropocene. In contrast, pigs have been perceived exclusively “as-pork” beginning with the onset of the Anthropocene. Pigs perceived and managed “as-pigs” in relational space time of pre-Anthropocene agro-ecosystems abruptly became pigs perceived and managed “as-pork” in the era of absolute-space-time that coincided with the onset of Anthropocene agro-ecosystems. No living space has been allocated for pigs-as-pork in cost-efficient Industrial Age mass pork-producing factory farms. The welfare state of pigs-as-pork awaiting slaughter in factory farm is stressful and unhealthy according to harsh critiques by animal welfare activists. However, a new era of postmodern, post-industrial relative space may offer pigs-as-pork in the future lives worth living. Perhaps Sus scrofa in this new era will again be valued “as-pigs?” Also discusses Jeju Island's traditional pigsty-privies that, as in ancient China, may have originated as a way of avoiding the health hazard of an "excreta apocalypse" within and surrounding rapidly overpopulating agricultural settlements.


publication date

  • 2017


start page

  • 49

end page

  • 58