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Pig Histories: Animals, Food and Farming in Denmark and Finland, c. 1860-1960

Focusing on the development and transformations of the pig industry in Denmark and Finland from the late 19th to the mid 20th century, this CEH-sponsored seminar probes the methodological and theoretical implications for exploring industrial human-animal relations in a historical perspective. The seminar is open to everyone interested and free to attend.

Info about event


Tuesday 18 June 2024,  at 13:30 - 16:00


1483-454 (Nobelparken)


Mary Hilson and Centre Environmental Humanities

The seminar, which is organized with the support of the Strategic Pool for Research, School of Culture and Society, is open to everyone with no registration required.

Seminar abstract

The years after 1860 saw massive changes in global agro-food systems and in the diets of millions of Europeans. While agriculture in many parts of Europe was plunged into crisis, Danish farmers, as is well-known, were able to shift to export-orientated animal production, and by the early twentieth century Denmark was often cited as an international model of successful agricultural adaptation, including in Finland. These changes had profound implications, not only for farmers but also for the millions of farm animals who lived and died to put food on the tables of European consumers.

In this seminar we will focus on pigs, the numbers of which increased massively in the late 19th century. Researchers from Tampere University and Aarhus University will present preliminary results of their research on pig history in Finland and Denmark respectively. In conversation with researchers from different disciplines, we wish to explore the methodological possibilities and challenges of writing animal-centred agricultural history in different contexts. Key questions include (but are not limited to) the following: how do we study animals in the past, and specifically pigs? What methods and sources are available to us? What are the advantages and potential challenges of different methods? What theoretical approaches are relevant? What can other scholarly disciplines bring to the historical study of animals and how can we facilitate inter-disciplinary collaborations in this field of study?


  • Marja Jalava (Tampere University): “The Co-Production of Animals and Humans in Finnish Agricultural Modernisation, 1890s-1960s”
  • Mary Hilson and Heather Swanson (Aarhus University): “The Great Pig Transformation: Danish pigs in the global food system, c. 1860-1935”

The presentations are followed by discussion moderated by Pierre du Plessis (University of Oslo).

For more information please contact mary.hilson@cas.au.dk.

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