Annotations - Thanksgiving 1908

turkeys and chickens minus their heads

In her 1994 book, Neither Man nor Beast: Feminism and the Defense of Animals, Carol J. Adams explains her concept of the “absent referent” whereby the human language of food substitutes meat for the living animal and thus removes the individual animal in its material being from the act of consumption: “[a]nimals in name and body are made absent as animals in order that flesh can exist. If animals are alive they cannot be meat” (16). The objectified “turkeys and chickens minus their heads” described by Freshel have been transformed from living sentient beings into objects for consumption by this process of resignification.

Karen Davis, in More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality (2001), gestures towards the mass slaughter of living animals when she describes Thanksgiving as “a sentimental holiday that is based on animal sacrifice” (14).