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Germinating, Tending, Nourishing, Sharing: How We Think Food Now

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Organizer: Eva-Lynn Jagoe

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This seminar will explore the pasts and futures of farming, food production, and food consumption through the intercultural relations that shape our present. From the Green Revolution’s project of “feeding the world” to the impacts of Big Agriculture on climate, culture, soil, and biodiversity loss, our present agricultural configuration has elided other food histories, cultures, and possible futures. Our goal in this seminar is to navigate the realities and fantasies that emerge from an exploration of different historical and projected pathways found in literary, artistic, cultural, social and political representations. Some of the questions that will emerge in our discussions include:

How do different versions of agricultural pasts— ranging from traditional food practices to marginalized cultural knowledges—intersect with visions of future food systems, encompassing genetic modification, increased automation, technological optimization, food sovereignty and food justice movements, alternate forms of food production, and more?
What challenges to heteronormative, capitalist, and extractive narratives of consumption and production exist?
Can we provide case studies/creative explorations/artistic imaginings of alternate food systems and practices (in artistic practices and creations; in literary and cinematic representations? Do we know of particular forms of activism (urban, rural, campus, community) that offer potential new forms?
How do we account for what is being lost and destroyed in contemporary farming, and expose how the forces of that destruction operate, without romanticizing farming and its impacts? Discussions of dispossession, of settler colonialism, plantation economies, deforestation, and monocropping will be relevant here.
How do we situate preppers/homesteaders/back-to-the-landers whose system-failure apprehensions lead them to a nostalgia for traditional forms of self-sufficiency?
What techno-utopian or dystopian fantasies of the future of food adhere, and how are they becoming the norm in cultural imaginaries?
How have cultural communities adapted their agricultural practices in response to the pressures of global networks of food production and distribution? How are they adapting them in response to climate change?
What is the historical role of labour in farming and food production, both as a component of exploitative capitalism and as a potential driver for future just food systems?
Is regenerative agriculture a return to the past or a radical alternative for the future? Has it already been coopted by greenwashing rhetoric of industrial agriculture?

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