The architecture of slaughter: protocapitalist economization of animals in 19th and early 20th century Vienna
(University of Vienna)
Paper short abstract:
The paper examines the development of modern architecture of slaughter and the beginnings of the protocapitalist economization of animal bodies in 19th and early 20th century Vienna. The slaughterhouse is conceptualized as a paradigmatic place of modernity.
Paper long abstract:
In the 19th and 20th century, the meat consumption rapidly increased in European cities. Therefore, municipalities were facing tremendous challenges concerning supply of the urban population. They stepped up efforts to control, mechanize, accelerate and streamline butchering and meat production. This modernization policy promoted the construction of slaughterhouses. The paper examines the Viennese slaughterhouse construction as an example case for the Europe-wide modernization of meat supply from its beginnings in mid-nineteenth century to First World War. With the development of modern architecture of slaughter a new expert knowledge of the spatial design of killing arose and with it new forms to economize animal bodies. At the interface of architectural and body history the paper examines the slaughterhouse as a paradigmatic place of modernity. Based on historical photographies, construction plans and drawings, first, I describe the construction of Viennese slaughterhouses. In a second step I examine the interdependent semantic rearrangements of "the animal" and "the human" related to architectural settings. The spatial framing enables an historical cultural approach to analyze the beginnings of the protocapitalist economization of livestock. Beyond, it brings detailed insights into the development of current meat production and supply systems.
Shared spaces: perspectives on animal architecture