Alternative Knowledge, Alternative Agriculture: Science for Life on a Damaged Planet

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Abstract Summary
In the 20th century, agrarian change was dominated by the industrial ideal, in which both farms and farmers were made Modern—rational, efficient, technologically-sophisticated—spurred by ideologies of productivism and progress. These transformations were buttressed by a constellation of collaboration between research scientists, extension agents, policy makers, and agricultural corporations. As a result, the predominant institutions of knowledge production were “captured,” orienting research problems and technological solutions towards agribusiness and large farm interests (Buttel 2005, Fitzgerald 2003, Kloppenburg 1988). This also led to the "academicization of agriculture" in which abstract scientific knowledge flows top-down from specialists to farmers increasingly dependent on expert authority (Cleveland and Soleri 2002, 2007). While the 21st century brings with it novel academy/industry relations and new formations of biocapital (Jasanoff 2005, Helmreich 2008), it also sees the emergence of alternative agricultural practices supported by alternative ways of knowing. Situating these recent changes within their historical context, this paper focuses on an alternative mode of agricultural production known as biodynamics and examines its foundation in Goethean science. I argue that this model of working with and knowing nature promises to cultivate a more holistic understanding of ecologies of people and plants, but that such approaches are marginalized by dominant reductionist knowledge regimes. At the intersection of feminist science studies and the anthropology of science and technology, this paper shares stories in service of an emerging “successor science” (Harding 1986) with deep historical roots.
Abstract ID :
Submission Type
Organized Session
Abstract Topic
Chronological Classification :
21st century
Self-Designated Keywords :
Goethean Science, Agriculture, Biodynamics, Alternative Ways of Knowing