Soils, seeds and capitalism: political agronomy and the intimacies of farming 
Birgit Müller (CNRS)
Daniel Münster (Heidelberg University)
Start time:
3 August, 2014 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This panel looks at the intimacies of farming practices across the world in relation to global political economy, contested (agronomical) expertise, and environmental governance. How do farmers maintain autonomy, defend land use and seed saving, and experiment with fertilization and exchange?

Long Abstract

Agricultural practices focus the attention of policy makers nationally and internationally, mobilize environmentalists and fuel ideological battles on websites of chemical corporations and international organisations. The cultivation of GMOs, bio-fuels, and processes of standardization are the object of protracted 'science wars' within agronomy and the social sciences. In debates about possible human futures we observe a shift from questions of agricultural expansion and land rights, to what and how to cultivate, manage soil fertility and retain autonomy over seeds. Agronomy becomes political: At a historical conjuncture in which small-scale farmers across the world face multiple vectors of dispossession, strategies of coping and contestation include experimentation with alternative practices of farming, fertilization and exchange.

In this panel we look at the intimacies of farming practices and analyse them in the wider economic and political context of international trade and investment treaties, UN sponsored guidelines and recommendations, and imperatives of environmental governance. Discourses and practices of farmers confront different eco-systems, government policies and corporate market penetrations, as they attempt to make their crops grow and sell it. We are interested in mechanisms of governance and appropriation, in government and corporate regulations as well as in farming skills and in attempts at maintaining autonomy, defending land use and seed saving. How do farmers navigate contested agronomies, incorporate and translate competing knowledge claims about agriculture into their practices of cultivation.? We invite contributions that can draw on solid work in the field.

Accepted papers: