Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Serve the People: Bovine Experiences in China's Civil War and Revolution, 1935-1961
by Braden, Peter Watson, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 2020, 449; 27963228
Abstract (Summary)

Sentient animals, both human and nonhuman, experienced increasing demands from the Nationalist and Communist governments of China during the mid-twentieth century. A multispecies environmental history of this period demonstrates the intermingled agency of humans, bovines, and microbes. Cattle, water buffalo, and yaks were not merely passive property or inert observers, but active, sensitive, participants in war and revolution. Reading documents written by people who interacted with bovines in conjunction with current veterinary literature on bovine physiology and behavior, I demonstrate how these animals experienced war, economic transformation, and technological innovation. Moreover, I show how human and bovine subjectivity varied with the animals’ sex, breed, location, and ownership status. 

Each chapter explores changes in bovine experience by focusing on a bodily fluid that represents some aspect of the animal’s life. The chapter on milk explores how the growth of a nationwide dairy industry strained relations between calves and cows, while the chapter on blood shows how cattle experienced the transition to urbanized, industrial slaughter. By showing how bovines experienced tightening state control over their social bonds, diets, medical care, workload, sexuality, and death, I challenge conventional human-centered histories of science, gender, labor, and imperialism in modern China.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gerth, Karl
Commitee: Pickowicz, Paul, Schneewind, Sarah, Gere, Catherina, Madsen, Richard
School: University of California, San Diego
Department: History
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 82/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian History, Animal sciences, Agriculture
Keywords: Bovine, China Civil War, Multispecies, Chinese revolution, Rinderpest
Publication Number: 27963228
ISBN: 9798664750362
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