Breeds cannot be taken for granted. They simply do not exist, at least not from a biological point of view. Still breeds of livestock of various kinds exists perfectly well as cultural facts in the world. The Aberdeen-Angus beef breed exists, even as "simply the best".
Breeds are made by artificial selection for human purposes; economical, cultural, aesthetical or for distinguishing purposes that be. By diving into the universe of the Aberdeen-Angus breed in Scotland for a six month fieldwork, treating different constituents of the breed such as; genetics, blood, phenotype, aesthetics, origin myths, ideology, landscape, nationality, commercial interest, markets, individual breeders and a breed community as interfering and intermixed parts of a network establishing the breed, the final thesis unfolds the hybrid character of such an enterprise.
This methodology opens for an understanding of what the breed and breeding practice are about and what it means to the people involved. The strength of this approach, where material and ideational aspects are brought in as active ingredients in the analysis, is that paradoxes are exposed. Paradoxes which might not be explicit or conceptualised by those involved, but which might give clues to an interpretation of the cultural ethos in which they are carrying out their daily way of life.
To construct a homogenous breed from diverse nature is a purification project, which by necessity involves impurity and transgression of borders. A central discussion in the thesis pivots around essentialism or belief in an eidos. An apparent paradox between at the one hand believing in evolution and improvement and at the other hand believing in an unchanged essence, is reflected in the unvoiced acceptance of the hegemonic representation of the breed as carrying a natural essence, when this is seen in the light of a breeding culture connoting conquest, altering and control with nature. The thesis invokes tentative understandings of such paradoxes, by showing how the hybrid character of the breed involves not just a rational production ethos, but also cultural continuity, identity and emotional embeddedness in the Aberdeen-Angus breed.