Yale Hosts Conference on the Natural and Cultural History of the Chicken

The chicken in all its guises-from cultural icon to mass produced commodity-will be the subject of an international three-day conference at Yale University, May 17-19.

From the jungle fowl in Southeast Asia 7,000 years ago, to a living presence in barnyards around the world, the ubiquitous chicken offers a unique perspective of the indigenous culture in which it is raised. Arguably the most engineered of all domestic animals today, the chicken’s breast, legs, eggs, wings, feathers and fighting abilities have been the subject of centuries of breeding and research.

The goal of the conference is to provide a natural and cultural history of the chicken (Gallus gallus) to better understand the transformations of agriculture, cuisine, health, biodiversity and labor associated with its domestication, production and consumption.

“The Chicken: Its Biological, Social, Cultural and Industrial History from Neolithic Middens to McNuggets” will bring together scholars, agronomists, chicken growers, industry representatives and activists from the labor, farm, animal welfare, environmental and public health movements, who have studied the economic, social, health and ecological consequences of poultry rearing from past to present.

“The Chicken and Globalization,” “The History of Breeds, Folklore and Symbolism” and “Learning from Chickens: Sanctuaries and Pasturized Farms” are among the topics that will be covered at the conference.

The conference will include a small film festival, literary events, poetry readings, an exhibition of breeds, and, of course, cuisine featuring real chicken and alternatives for friends of fowl. Jointly organized by the Program in Agrarian Studies and a committee of undergraduate and graduate students, the conference is sponsored by the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, the Institution for Social and Policy Studies and the Yale Center for International and Area Studies. For more information, visit the website: http://www.yale.edu/agrarianstudies/chicken

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345