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Agriculture, Environment, and Development: Imperial and International Contexts Across the Twentieth Century

Thu, March 15, 3:30 to 5:00pm, Riverside Convention Center, RC E

Session Submission Type: Panel


The history of agriculture in the twentieth century brings together the basic imperatives of food and human survival, the material environmental realities of human existence, and the aspirations of state power and modern nationhood within the international system. This session uses the lens of agriculture and development to explore the fraught political and environmental circumstances that have tied food production to projects of empire, nation-building, and global civil society. Through studies of tropical agriculture and American empire in early twentieth century Hawai‘i, the international world of post-WWII soil science, and the irrigation needs that conditioned the introduction of the Green Revolution in Mexico and India, the papers in this session shed light on the ecological dimensions of agriculture, whether as national, imperial, or international project. In doing so, the three papers, taken together, also contribute to scholars’ ongoing efforts to decenter the cold war in studies of knowledge and state power by moving across the chronological dividing line of World War II, and they also seek to decenter the United States in histories of international relations and development, particularly in the second half of the twentieth century.

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