Moderated by Gary Herrigel, University of Chicago
Friday, April 21, 2023, 9:00–10:30am
Room 122, Regenstein Library
Industrial agriculture is directly responsible for enormous social, environmental and climate damage in the world today. Land concentration and peasant/farmer dispossession ruin communities and dislocate populations and ecologies, while scientifically driven farming degrades the soil, water and air, undermines biological diversity, and generates disastrous consequences for the long-term health of humans. Drawing upon key perspectives in ecology, political economy, and environmental history, this panel explores such issues from several key conceptual, methodological, and normative viewpoints with an eye not only toward critical diagnosis, but also to explore possibilities to recast this inescapably foundational domain of human life in socially just and environmentally sustainable ways.
Planetary Urbanization, Nature’s Matrix, and the Struggle for a New Agriculture
Ivette Perfecto, University of Michigan
Ivette Perfecto is the James E. Crowfoot Professor of Environmental Justice at the School for Environment and Sustainability of the University of Michigan. She has more than 35 years of experience working on issues of agriculture and the environment. Her research focuses on agroecology, biodiversity, and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes with an emphasis on agroforestry systems of Mexico and Puerto Rico. She is an elected Senior Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a Senior Fellow of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), and a Senior Fellow of the Michigan Society of Fellows. Professor Perfecto was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2022. She has been a member of the New World Agriculture and Ecology Group and Science for the People for over 30 years.
Narratives of Crisis and Change in the History of Industrial Agriculture
Helen Anne Curry, Georgia Tech
Helen Anne Curry↗ is Melvin Kranzberg Professor in the History of Technology at the School of History and Sociology, Georgia Institute of Technology. She is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, where she leads the multi-researcher project, “From Collection to Cultivation: Historical Perspectives on Crop Diversity and Food Security” (2020–2025) with funding from the Wellcome Trust. Her current research centers on the histories of seeds, crop science, and industrial agriculture. She is author of Evolution Made to Order: Plant Breeding and Technological Innovation in Twentieth Century America (University of Chicago Press, 2016) and Endangered Maize: Industrial Agriculture and the Crisis of Extinction (University of California Press, 2022).
Agrarian Questions and National Liberation in a Warming World: Paths to the Future, North and South
Max Ajl, Ghent University
Max Ajl is a Senior Fellow at in the Department of Conflict and Development Studies at Ghent University and a researcher with the Tunisian Observatory for Food Sovereignty and the Environment. He is an editor at Agrarian South and Journal of Labor and Society, and has written for Agrarian South, the Journal of Peasant Studies, Globalizations, Review of African Political Economy, Middle East Report, and many other scholarly and popular journals. He researches climate politics, Tunisian national liberation, agrarian politics in the Arab region, and Arab intellectual history. He has been active in anti-war politics and is the author of a recent book, A People’s Green New Deal (Pluto Press, 2021).