Winter 2020 Course | Bioindustrialization in Agriculture

Wed 11:30AM – 2:30PM
Bioindustrialization in Agriculture
Location TBD: Professor of Social Sciences Julie Guthman
While the graduate seminar is currently scheduled on Wednesdays from 11:30-2:30 the time might shift to accommodate conflicts with other graduate courses (like the SJTP introductory course offered from 9-12). Interested students are encouraged to write Professor Guthman with any questions they might have as well as potential time conflicts.
Bioindustrialization in Agriculture
With growing pressures on land uses and other scarce resources, along with abiding fears of having too many mouths to feed, some environmentalists are arguing that solutions are to be found in the (further) intensification of food production.  And so we’re seeing increased investment in and modest public support for technologies in fish farming, biofortification, cellular meat production, and even the use of plants and animals to produce non-food products. Many rest on the presumption that life is plentiful while mineral resources are not. But the industrialization of agriculture has been going on for a long time, part and parcel of capitalist exigencies even if often justified by needing to “feed the world.”  Such industrialization has not only involved the organization of land and labor to enhance agricultural productivity, but also efforts in plant and animal breeding to make plants and animals grow faster, bigger, or otherwise in keeping with other farm organization and technologies. Using a capacious definition, this course will take a deep dive into the bioindustrialization of agriculture in its myriad forms, past and present, interrogating both its promises and perils as well as the ethics of reconfiguring life itself. We will pay special attention to the relation between the remaking of plant and animal bodies and human labor.

The specific objectives of this seminar are threefold. You will:

  1. develop knowledge of and critical perspectives on processes of bioindustrialization, past and present;
  2. gain facility with different theories and methodological approaches employed by various authors so to expand your social science toolkit;
  3. get practice and feedback in writing on literature for clarity, succinctness, and insight, to support the development of field statements, research prospectuses, dissertation chapters, or other works in progress.
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