Research seminar with Dr Yoriko Otomo (SOAS, London): Thinking Through Commodities: Milk

 26 May
 Faculty of Law, Lund University
  - - -
 Matilda Arvidsson
The Faculty of Law at Lund University cordially invites you to attend a research seminar with Dr Yoriko Otomo, SOAS, London, who while visiting the Faculty in Lund will give a talk entitled “Thinking Through Commodities: Milk”. Based on a recently published article in the Australian Feminist Law Journal (, the presentation is part of a book project on international law, Empire, and the commodification and trade of animals. After the talk we invite participants to engage in an informal conversation and academic exchange. Hosted by Professor Gregor Noll, and the Pufendorf research seminar series, the seminar is open to all researchers and students at an advanced level. Time: Tuesday 26 May, at 14:15–16:00 Venue: Styrelserummet, 4th floor, faculty main building, Lilla Gråbrödersgatan 4. ( 'Thinking Through Commodities: Milk' Milk, a globally traded commodity, is ubiquitous throughout our food systems. In light of its ever-increasing production and consumption, this article seeks to contextualise the fluid within a history its regulation, tracing the role of state intervention in shifting milk feeding from the domestic to the public and to the international sphere; from the sacred and precious to the surplus and profane; and from corporeal matter to industrial material. There is a range of scholarly publications on milk, a couple of them looking specifically at legal aspects of milk production, and some taking feminist or animal welfare approaches to its commodification. The majority deals with either breastmilk and breastfeeding practices, or cows’ milk production. This article extends the literature by analysing the co-evolution of regulation that, on one hand, restricted direct human/animal contact in milk feeding while, on the other, enabling the creation of national and global cows’ milk production systems and distribution networks. The argument advanced is that there is no coincidence here: milk, with its symbolic and physiological powers of nurture and purification, plays a central role in securing the political economy of the late modern state. Furthermore, control over female human and animal life in the process of milk production is an expression of political liberalism that cannot be ignored in any jurisprudence which takes that project seriously. Bio Dr Yoriko Otomo is a Lecturer in Law at SOAS, and received her doctorate from the University of Melbourne. She was previously a lecturer at Keele University, and has taught at Birkbeck (University of London), and the International Center for Legal Studies and the University of Melbourne. She has also worked at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (London School of Economics), and Bleyer Lawyers (Australia). Dr Otomo’s areas of interest are animal law, the history of environmental law, international law and legal theory, and her present research focus is the historical regulation of animals and other global commodities. Her most recent publications are an article, ‘Her Proper Name: A Revisionist History of International Law’ (London Review of International Law, 2014), a co-written article (with Stephen Humphreys), ‘Theorising International Environmental Law’ (LSE Working Papers, 2014). She is currently finalising a monograph for publication (OUP, 2015), and has just co-edited (with Cressida Limon) a special issue of the Australian Feminist Law Journal, ‘Dogs, Pigs and Children: Changing Laws in 19th Century Colonial Britain’.

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