Richard Merritt and Scott Hurley present lecture

While the similarities between the prison industrial complex and concentrated animal feeding operations may not be obvious to the casual observer, Richard Merritt, Luther College professor of art, and Scott Hurley, Luther assistant professor of religion, will draw the connection in the Paideia Texts and Issues lecture "Invisible Geographies: Violence and Oppression in the Prison Industrial Complex and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations" at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23, in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall on the Luther campus.

            A reception, held in Qualley Lounge, will follow the lecture. Both the lecture and the reception are open to the public with no charge for admission.

            In line with this year's Paideia theme of "Secrecy and Transparency," Merritt and Hurley will discuss the visceral nature of the systematized objectification of bodies in prisons and animal feeding operations alike.

            After looking at historical development and analyzing statistical data related to crime and meat consumption, Merritt and Hurley's lecture will examine the systems that sustain each industry, indicating how they intersect with one another. Doing so will highlight the violent and oppressive social, political and economic institutions and forces behind the treatment of inmate and animal bodies.

            Merritt teaches courses on intermedia arts, critical theory and computational aesthetics. Merritt is a trans-disciplinary artist whose work sits at the crossroads of aesthetic object, social practice arts and scholarship.

            His work has appeared in numerous publications, among them the Leonardo Journal of Arts and Sciences and the proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Merritt's recent research and publications include "The Arts of Memory and the Design of Influencez" and "E Diasporas and Immigration."

            Hurley teaches courses on religion and animal studies. He is a scholar of Asian religions and his research interests involve the intersectionality of human and animal exploitation, and the application of Buddhist teachings to animal rights issues.

            Hurley's most recent publications include "Engendering Empathy for Nonhuman Suffering: Using Graphic Narratives to Raise Awareness about Commercial Dog Breeding Operations" and "Buddhism and Nonhuman Animals." His current research examines how the "dog fancy" reifies social and cultural constructions of normality for both humans and canines.

Richard Merritt