Absent Interests: On the Abstraction of Human and Animal Milks


How does milk become cow milk, donkey milk or human milk? When one closely explores this question, the species difference between milks is not as stable as one might initially assume, even if one takes an embodied perspective. To show this, this book takes readers through an ethnographic comparison of milk consumption and production in Croatia in a range of different social settings: on farms, in mother-infant breastfeeding relations, in food hygiene documentation and in the local landscape. It argues that humans actually invest considerable work into abstracting and negotiating milks into their human and animal forms.

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Sarah Czerny has a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Edinburgh and works as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Cultural Studies, University of Rijeka.

List of Tables, Figures and Diagrams

1Introduction Absent Interests: On the Abstraction of Human and Animal Milks
 1 Species Body and Species Milk

 2 Observing Milks

 3 Milk Relations

 4 (Dis)connection in Milk Relations

 5 Practical Challenges

 6 A Caveat

 7 Road Map

2Interests The Quality and Quantity of Milk
 1 Weights and Measures

 2 Quantifying Production in the Hospital and at Home

 3 Inheritance and Lactation Curves

 4 Interests in the Quality of Milk

 5 Selective Interests

3Concepts Good Milkers: Good Mothers; Bad Milkers: Bad Mothers
 1 Delicate Eco(nomic)-Systems: The Economics of Animal Milk Production

 2 The Kinship of Human Milk Relations

 3 (De)personalising Milks

4Documents Documenting Milks
 1 Cheese, Cheez and Goats

 2 Documenting Milks

 3 Not Just Legal Documents

 4 Types of Milk Relations

5Mothers and Infants Narratives on Motherhood and Milk
 1 Mother Milkmaid

 2 Feeding the Family

 3 Cows as Mothers

 4 Geographies of Breastfeeding

6Conclusion Working Together on Abstraction



Postgraduate students and scholars of milk studies
Scholars and students interested in human-animal studies, and bovine studies
Practitioners (breastfeeding consultants, medical specialists) interested in breastfeeding/chestfeeding
Students (undergraduate/postgraduate) and scholars in social/cultural anthropology
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