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Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight (Yale Agrarian Studies)by Timothy Pachirat
Synopses & Reviews
From the minute it openedandmdash;on Christmas Day in 1865andmdash;it was Chicagoandrsquo;s must-see tourist attraction, drawing more than half a million visitors each year. Families, visiting dignitaries, even school groups all made trips to the South Side to tour the Union Stock Yard. There they got a firsthand look at the cityandrsquo;s industrial prowess as they witnessed cattle, hogs, and sheep disassembled with breathtaking efficiency. At its height, the kill floors processed six hundred animals an hour and employed 50,000 workers, an astonishing spectacle of industrialized death.
Slaughterhouse tells the story of the Union Stock Yards, chronicling the rise and fall of an industrial district that, for better or for worse, served as the public face of Chicago for decades. Dominic Pacyga is a guide like no otherandmdash;he grew up in the shadow of the stockyards, spent summers in their hog house and cattle yards, and maintains a long-standing connection with the working-class neighborhoods. Pacyga takes readers through the packinghouses as only an insider can, covering the rough and toxic life inside the plants and their lasting effects on the world outside. He shows how the yards shaped the surrounding neighborhoods and controlled the livelihoods of thousands of families. He looks at the Union Stock Yardsandrsquo; political and economic power and their sometimes volatile role in the cityandrsquo;s race and labor relations. And he traces their decades of mechanized innovations, which introduced millions of consumers across the country to an industrialized food system.
Although the Union Stock Yards closed in 1971, the story doesnandrsquo;t end there. Pacyga takes readers to present day, showing how the manufacturing spirit lives on. Ironically, today the site of the legendary andldquo;stockyard stenchandrdquo; is now home to some of Chicagoandrsquo;s most successful green agriculture companies.
Marking the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the stockyards, Slaughterhouse is an engrossing story of one of the most importantandmdash;and deadliestandmdash;square miles in American history.
A political scientist goes undercover in a modern industrial slaughterhouse for this twenty-first-century update of Upton Sinclairand#8217;s The Jungle
An engrossing and startling history of Chicagoand#8217;s Union Stock Yard, Dominic Pacygaand#8217;s meticulous and fresh book addresses more than the rise and fall of the industrial district that for so long was a critical part of what defined Chicago, its immigrants, its economy, its environmental health (or lack thereof), and its politics. While Pacyga knows those aspects like few others doand#151;having grown up in the Back of the Yards neighborhood and worked in the stockyards himself as a young manand#151;he has here unearthed a history of gruesome spectacle amid the flowering of industrial modernity. A tourist attraction, an industrial marvel, and the crucible of our industrialized food system, the stockyards have long been a critical part of what made Chicago Chicagoand#151;and even today, innovation continues to flourish there, as new forms of agriculture and industry take shape on this charmed site.
This is an account of industrialized killing from a participantand#8217;s point of view. The author, political scientist Timothy Pachirat, was employed undercover for five months in a Great Plains slaughterhouse where 2,500 cattle were killed per dayand#8212;one every twelve seconds. Working in the cooler as a liver hanger, in the chutes as a cattle driver, and on the kill floor as a food-safety quality-control worker, Pachirat experienced firsthand the realities of theand#160;work of killing in modern society. He uses those experiences to explore not only the slaughter industry but also how, as a society, we facilitate violent labor and hide away that which is too repugnant to contemplate.
Through his vivid narrative and ethnographic approach, Pachirat brings to life massive, routine killing from the perspective of those who take part in it. He shows how surveillance and sequestration operate within the slaughterhouse and in its interactions with the community at large. He also considers how society is organized to distance and hide uncomfortable realities from view. With much to say about issues ranging from the sociology of violence and modern food production to animal rights and welfare, Every Twelve Secondsand#160;is an important and disturbing work.
About the Author
Timothy Pachirat is assistant professor, Department of Politics, The New School. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Table of Contents
Confronting the Modern in Chicagoandrsquo;s Square Mile
Facing the Modern World
From Swamp to Industrial Giant
3 Working in the Yards
The Move to the Modern
4 andldquo;Success Comes to Those Who Hustle Wiselyandrdquo;
The Emergence of the Greatest Livestock Market in the World
5 Slaughterhouse Blues
The Decline and Fall of the Union Stock Yard
6 Innovate for Efficiencyandmdash;Though with Less Stench
The Square Mile after the Union Stock Yard
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