MEAT LOVE: AN IDEOLOGY OF THE FLESH
They say it is love. We say, so what?
In an era of climate catastrophe and corporate agribusiness, meat has been decisively made over. Urbanites across the West are called upon to look at the animals we eat, and by looking, learn to treat them with love. We are asked to tenderise our carnal desire for flesh and dignify our relationship with the land. Yet can our appetite for meat be redeemed by this new way of seeing? Can an ‘ethical’ approach to the farming, sale, and consumption of meat really save both the planet and our souls?
Revisiting John Berger’s writings on animals and class, Meat Love restores a materialist lens to the politics of carnivorous desire. In this vital essay, Amber Husain deconstructs the beauty, tragedy, and mystery with which our images of meat are embellished, drawing on a range of visual sources from contemporary art and film to Instagram and advertising. Probing the nature of ‘love’ in contemporary human-animal relations, it casts a critical eye on the visual culture of meat as it gentrifies and mutates, informing, for better or for worse, who we become as political subjects.
Published by (and available to order from) Mack Books.
‘An exquisitely crafted little hand-grenade lobbed at the gentrification of the carnivorous mind. With breathtaking verve and elegance, Husain traces through phenomena such as #cottagecore influencers, King Charles III's views on harmony, Plato, Pythagoras, horror movies, and celebrity cooks. I am not exaggerating when I say I have thought about Meat Love every day since beginning it. As someone who cut their teeth politically in vegan climate justice circles, I didn’t think any of the arguments in it could possibly surprise me; I was wrong.’ Sophie Lewis
‘A bracing interrogation of the bourgeois romance with so-called ‘ethical’ meat. What does it mean, Husain asks, that our love of animals is not only compatible with, but culminates in, our consuming their flesh? Her answer disturbs and dazzles.’ Amia Srinivasan
An essay on work, desire, and fear of being replaced
From the workplace to our personal relationships, anxieties about being replaced have come to dominate the late-capitalist psyche. Tech and self-help industries have exploited these fears, selling gadgets and ideologies that offer a privatised vision of ‘progress’. How can we reclaim the desire for collective resistance? In this wide-ranging essay, critic Amber Husain asks if our obsession with replacement might in fact be at the heart of political stasis. Radical, clear-sighted, and moving, Replace Me is at once a repudiation of myths of replacement and a celebration of the political possibilities inherent in embracing our own replaceability.
Published by (and available to order from) Peninsula Press.
‘A close cousin to Franco Berardi, Amber Husain conducts one of the most sweeping assessments to date of neoliberalism’s psychic toll. Beginning with the sad fact of expendability in entry-level work, she expands on Lauren Berlant’s concept of cruel optimism, diving deep into under-investigated histories to understand the roots of systemic unhappiness and the nature of desire itself.’ Chris Kraus
‘Replace Me is a short, searing meditation on the idea of human replaceability in politics and work, love and comradeship, which ranges from Karel Čapek to Maggie Nelson, from Aleksandra Kollontai to Lauren Berlant. It packs an extraordinary range of ideas and inspirations into its brief polemic, managing to be sensitive and yet utterly provocative.’ Juliet Jacques
‘How rare it is to read a book like Amber Husain’s Replace Me, a work of criticism that lays bare the horrors of our automated lives with such subtle and sustained beauty. Replace Me is at once wonderfully unsparing in its critique of capitalism’s myths and wonderfully humane in its affirmative vision of love’s political vitality.’ Merve Emre
‘Essential reading for anyone in search of different futures. Amber Husain’s pellucid, erudite prose captures the many ways in which the workplace has been changing, further eviscerating any sense of engagement in meaningful labour. With verve and originality, Replace Me tracks through time highlighting social discontents before finally suggesting creative modes of coming to terms with, and hence resisting, the chief dysfunctions of the present.’ Lynne Segal
You can read an extract of the book in Granta as well as tie-in articles in Tribune and Prospect.
Replace Me was selected as a book of the year for 2021 by Verso authors and Turnaround staff, among others.