Pet Poultry

By: Jamie Kinsley  

Today, eggs occupy refrigerator shelves in every convenience store, yet members of the York County community in Pennsylvania laboriously raise small flocks of chickens as a food source. With increasing globalization comes benefits including higher standards of living, access to basic human needs such as clean water and healthcare, and cultural awareness. However, globalization and the American food-systems infrastructure have grown to industrialized heights where commodification leads to abstraction. To combat this separation from our food source, people exchange consumerism for a connection with their food primarily via gardens and poultry rearing. Their place in the backyard builds kinship similar to that of family where their multi-species familiarity defies the anthropocentric tendencies of biosociality. Primarily through ethnography, I interview and observe twenty households in York County Pennsylvania who raise chickens. While some of the participants own chickens for various functions such as experimentation, entertainment, education, or political activism, I primarily analyze the meaning derived from chicken ownership through the lens of ethical foodways and companionship. As a fellow chicken owner, I recognize that raising chickens is not a necessity; it is a choice. None of the participants grew up around chickens; they all intentionally sought out the practice as a way to free themselves from the industrial food system. This study ultimately argues that raising backyard chickens offers pastoral fringe living, where the participants enjoy the proximity of civilization paired with the romanticized practice of homesteading as a way to counter the hegemonic food system.

Community Studies Interdisciplinary
Civic, Political, and Community Studies
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Jamie Kinsley

PhD Candidate, American Studies, Penn State University, United States
PA, United States

After teaching American Cultures to ninth graders for five years, I have gained experience managing a classroom, integrating interdisciplinary techniques into my lesson plans, and fusing technology whenever possible. The school I teach at only accepts underpriveledged kids as a way to end the poverty cycle which has given meaning to my career. Additionally, I consider myself a collaborative colleague who enjoys working with others including writing a thematic-based curriculum instead of the traditional chronologically-based American history curriculum.