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Revista Uruguaya de Antropología y Etnografía

Print version ISSN 2393-7068On-line version ISSN 2393-6886


TAKS, Javier. Anthropological approach to human and cattle work in dairy farming of Uruguay. Evidence for a homology relationship. Rev. urug. Antropología y Etnografía [online]. 2021, vol.6, n.2, pp.55-81.  Epub Dec 01, 2121. ISSN 2393-7068.

This article is based on an ethnography with family dairy farmers and wage workers in capitalist dairy farms (tamberos) and their dairy cows, in Villa del Rosario, province of Lavalleja, Uruguay. In the article I will explore how dairy farmers and their cows mutually affect each other for market-oriented milk production. I attempt to show the homology between the social relations of production between human persons (based on kinship or wage labor) and the socialized relations of production between humans and non-humans. To run the dairy farm, the principles of trust and domination guide not only the relations between dairy farmers and their milking cows but also the relations between people. The article points out the particularity of pasture based dairy farming in the debate about human-animal relations in industrial agriculture; describes the milking routine and the necessary cows’ intention for milk ejection; it addresses the mediation of cows in human labor and, finally, it discusses the problem of the scale of production in the potential alienation between dairy farmers and dairy cows. One of the main conclusions is that the current tendency to reification of cows and people, a step beyond the principle of domination, comes into tension with the daily need for trust, recognizing the importance of the autonomy of others, human and not-human beings to carry on with dairy farming. Doing the tambo still means living and resolving this ambivalence between domination and trust, in order to survive the actual process of social differentiation.

Keywords : dairy farming; animal work; trust; reification; Uruguay.

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