Drawing on queer theory and fat studies, in particular Lee Edelman’s No Future and his concept of ‘reproductive futurism’, I argue that dairy cows can be considered queer because they queer concepts of ‘nature’ and ‘culture’. I argue that cows are caught up in their own ‘reproductive futurism’ as the prevailing ideology of the dairy industry is that each successive generation of cows should be bigger and produce more milk. Climate change presents a challenge for the dairy industry and one response from milk suppliers has been to require farmers to complete a carbon footprint, which I argue reproduces current and historic ideologies by its focus on productivity. Imaginings of sustainable futures, I argue, also use ideas of productivity – but of plants and soil being productive – cows often having no places in these futures because they are seen as not ‘natural’. I use speculative fiction to imagine what good futures for dairy cows could look like.
Naomi Hammett is a fourth year PhD candidate at Lancaster University in the Sociology department. Her research focus is on dairy farms in North West England and their response to climate change and the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with a particular focus on the narratives and practices relating to the lives and futures of cows. Naomi works predominantly within the field of Science and Technology Studies. She holds an MA in Environment, Society and Culture and a BA in History. She has had a previous career as a primary school teacher. Naomi can be contacted at: email@example.com
Naomi Hammett, “What Future for Queer Cows?”, insightOut. Journal on Gender and Sexuality in STEM Collections and Cultures, 1(2023), 19–29, DOI: 10.60531/insightout.2023.1.4