Semantics of Biofacts: Introducing Atomic Agriculture in Africa

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Abstract Summary
The proposed paper will narrate the story of projects to establish nuclear techniques in agriculture, focusing in particular on Africa. It aims at exploring how arrangements of nuclear and agricultural things gave birth to a third class of objects, i.e. biofacts (irradiated organisms). The questions at stake here are firstly, whether and how irradiated organisms as biofacts acquired meaning on the basis of the competing grammars of both nuclear and agricultural systems, and secondly, to what extent biofacts (of the nuclear age) have impacted the semantics of its constituent realms (nuclear technology and agriculture). Arrangements of nuclear and agricultural things, each emerging from distinct technical and spatial contexts and each based on differing rules/principles of composition, require processes of translation and mutual adaptation, resulting in transformations such as irradiated organisms. The paper will explore how these transformations gave rise to new grammars as techniques of composition, enabling the biofacts of the nuclear age to work. This will help us to understand the success or failure of nuclear projects in agriculture because these projects will only work when they build on a new grammar that imbues agricultural biofacts with meaning and significance. The paper will first introduce the historical context and one main actor for the development of nuclear techniques in agriculture. Then, two applications – radiation breeding and the sterile insect technology – will be highlighted. Special attention will be payed to attempts to install these applications in Africa, based on sources from the IAEA, especially with respect to Ghana and Nigeria.
Abstract ID :
Submission Type
Organized Session
Abstract Topic
Chronological Classification :
20th century, late
Self-Designated Keywords :
Atomic agriculture, Mutation breeding, Sterile insect technology, Biofacts, IAEA