Video: Eva Giraud and Gregory Hollin on Care, Laboratory Beagles and Affective Utopia

Eva Giraud and Gregory Hollin introduce their article ‘Care, Laboratory Beagles and Affective Utopia

Theory, Culture & Society, 0263276415619685, first published on January 13, 2016

A caring approach to knowledge production has been portrayed as epistemologically radical, ethically vital and as fostering continuous responsibility between researchers and research-subjects. This article examines these arguments through focusing on the ambivalent role of care within the first large-scale experimental beagle colony, a self-professed ‘beagle utopia’ at the University of California, Davis (1951–86). We argue that care was at the core of the beagle colony; the lived environment was re-shaped in response to animals ‘speaking back’ to researchers, and ‘love’ and ‘kindness’ were important considerations during staff recruitment. Ultimately, however, we show that care relations were used to manufacture compliancy, preventing the predetermined ends of the experiment from being troubled. Rather than suggesting Davis would have been less ethically troubling, or more epistemologically radical, with ‘better’ care, however, we suggest the case troubles existing care theory and argue that greater attention needs to be paid to histories, contexts, and exclusions.