Agricultural Technology and the Plastic Sea: Greenhouse Growing in the Spanish Desert

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Abstract Summary
In the desert of south-eastern Spain, the development of horticulture has resulted in a landscape of plastic greenhouses known as ‘the Plastic Sea’. In this area, a complete transformation of the landscape has been taking place – not merely changing aspects of it, but a radical rethinking of its shapes, meanings and functions. Producing tomatoes, peppers, and more, the greenhouses play a crucial role in the European food market. How can a desert have become 'the orchard of Europe'? There is a seeming contradiction between the image of the desert as a place where life is close to impossible and as a flourishing site of intensive, controlled agriculture. By presenting an ethnographic account of the social material forms of the greenhouse, its histories, and technologies, I discuss how the greenhouse facilitates and limits everyday movements, interactions, and meanings. Cutting across scales, from the individual greenhouse to its troubled regional expansion and its historical appeal to European-ness, the paper ultimately asks what power dynamics the greenhouse represents and how techno-science modifies landscapes past and present.
Abstract ID :
Submission Type
Organized Session
Abstract Topic
Chronological Classification :
20th century, late
Self-Designated Keywords :
Agricultural Science, Greenhouses, Modern Farming, Technoscience, Landscapes