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“Safe” Spaces? Vegan ideologies and farm animal sanctuaries


“Safe” Spaces? Vegan ideologies and farm animal sanctuaries

Parker, Angela Dawn (2016) “Safe” Spaces? Vegan ideologies and farm animal sanctuaries. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Farm animal sanctuaries in North America are spaces that have been created by humans who want to provide refuge for farm animals who are not normally considered to be companion animals. Within these ostensibly safe spaces, humans and the rescued animals can develop a relationship similar to human-human friendship. These spaces may be free of violence, but humans still control the animals, thus limiting the choices of the non-humans and reinforcing hierarchical relations (Emel, et al., 2015). Are sanctuaries safe spaces? What is a safe space for domesticated animals? Do safe spaces exist?

To answer these questions, this thesis is an exploratory study of two farm animal sanctuaries in Eastern Ontario. Because the concept of safe spaces for animals is novel in the academic literature, this thesis builds from existing definitions of safe spaces for humans: spaces that are free of control, protected from outside society and places where unspoken hierarchies can be challenged (Evans & Boyt, 1992; Gamson, 1996; Roestone Collective, 2014). The thesis also draws on a modified version of Rhoda Wilkie’s (2005) concept of “attached attachment”, linking this concept to vegan ideologies and placing impartialness towards sentient beings at one end of the spectrum and emotional concern at the other end. Wilkie’s farmer-animal associations are employed using a slightly different angle, questioning if animal sanctuaries can be considered safe spaces if volunteers do not exhibit an “attached attachment” with the animals.

Using theoretical insights developed in the field of sociology, geography, environmental studies and ethology, this research will contribute to animal geography as a grounded perspective on farm sanctuaries and safe spaces, two topics that have been largely overlooked. The findings of this research describe farm animal sanctuaries and the people who care for the animals within these spaces. The research finds that vegan ideologies tend to play a role in the foundations of sanctuaries; however, they do not shape all sanctuary spaces. The research also finds that farm sanctuaries may be free of violence, but the animals are still controlled by humans. The safeness is limited at sanctuaries due to the hierarchical divide. This thesis concludes that farm animal sanctuaries are indeed safe spaces for animals, but with limitations.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Geography, Planning and Environment
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Parker, Angela Dawn
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M. Sc.
Program:Geography, Urban & Environmental Studies
Date:12 September 2016
Thesis Supervisor(s):Collard, Rosemary-Claire and Nash, Alan
ID Code:981741
Deposited On:08 Nov 2016 19:26
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:53
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