Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight (Hardcover)

Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight

By Timothy Pachirat

Yale University Press, 9780300152678, 320pp.

Publication Date: November 1, 2011



This is an account of industrialized killing from a participant'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 day 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 thework 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 Seconds"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.

Praise For Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight

"Pachirat’s extraordinary narrative tells us about much more than abused animals and degraded workers. It opens our eyes to the kind of society in which we live."—Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation
-Peter Singer

"A truly stunning achievement.  Every Twelve Seconds takes us into the slaughterhouse and asks: Why do we work so hard to conceal the daily routine of industrialized killing?  The result is a masterpiece that is as sophisticated as it is hard to put down."—Steve Striffler, author of Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America''s Favorite Food
-Steve Striffler

"By far the most thorough and immersive accounting of slaughterhouse operations in contemporary agribusiness."—Erik Marcus, author of Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, & Money
-Erik Marcus

"Pachirat’s prose and tone are readable, horrific, and compelling.  The documentary spell it casts recalls the steady, unflinching eye of Orwell’s Road to Wigan Pier. Astonishing."—John Bowe, author of Nobodies: Slave Labor in Modern America and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy
-John Bowe

"Timothy Pachirat''s courageous study of kill floor work exposes the fiction of "humane" slaughter.  This book is required reading for people who care about animals and for those interested in how distance and concealment operate in our society."—Gene Baur, President of Farm Sanctuary and author of Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food
-Gene Baur

"…a detailed and brilliantly executed ethnography of an industrialized slaughterhouse in Omaha…its clear, jargon-free prose will make it accessible to both graduate and undergraduate students across disciplines."—Clarissa Rile Hayward, author of De-facing Power
-Clarissa Rile Hayward

“A profoundly sobering exploration of the interplay between the imperatives of the modern meatpacking industry and the dehumanizing slaughter of cattle.”—Ian Shapiro, author of The Real World of Democratic Theory
-Ian Shapiro

"A fascinating, gut-wrenching study—but absolutely not for the weak of stomach."—Kirkus Reviews

“[I]t would take an exceptionally visceral, in-depth account to make a meaningful contribution to the literature of animals suffering for our nourishment. That’s exactly what Timothy Pachirat provides in Every Twelve Seconds.”—Tom Bartlett, Chronicle of Higher Education