Suicidal Cows and Fields of Worms: Apocalyptic Agribusiness in Brazil and Argentina

  • Eduardo Leão University of Chicago
Keywords: ecocriticism, animal studies, risk criticism, cattle raising, soy


Latin American literature has responded to the environmental crises that have reawakened our apocalyptic imaginaries beyond twentieth-century nuclear fears. This essay focuses on two South American novels that engage with the damage caused by agribusiness in Brazil and Argentina: De gados e homens (2013), by Ana Paula Maia, and Distancia de rescate (2014), by Samanta Schweblin. I argue that these works not only feature apocalyptic tropes but also oppose the destructive forces of agribusiness by staging different practices of care that involve a closer relationship with the environment: in the Brazilian case, through an openness to the shared vulnerability of people and other animals; in the Argentinian case, through a proactive and retroactive thinking that both anticipates and reevaluates risk by mimicking the bonds between parent and child.