In New Zealand one of the most significant animal rights issues is the systemic cruelty inherent in the dairy industry. This article presents a review of video activism as a strategy by activists in New Zealand to educate the public about the brutal and oppressive realities of dairy practices. To illustrate we offer a case study of an antidairy campaign in 2015 that was based on activist video work. This campaign was led by key animal rights groups SAFE and Farmwatch and was called The Dark Side of Dairy. In this case, video footage captured by activists was used to provide counter narratives to the dominant discourses of dairying and to educate the public about their consumption practices. We argue that dominant discourses of dairying are powerful shapers of public consciousness and based on welfarist ideology and myths of the rural Romantic Arcadia. To illustrate the strength of these dominant understandings we employ critical discourse analysis (CDA) and semiotic analysis. In teasing out the ways in which discourses of dairy farming have been constructed in New Zealand, we demonstrate the power of political forces in preserving the status quo around dairying. This paper concludes that the role of animal rights video activism lies primarily in educating the public to think more deeply and critically about human-animal relations and the depravations of dairy farming. It is the basis for a pedagogy of conscientization. We conclude that conscientization of the underpinning exploitative relations of animal agriculture can occur with the aid of witness to the animal’s suffering conveyed through the medium of video.
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