AMST 342
Race, Development, and Food Sovereignty Spring 2022
Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed ENVI 349 / AFR 349 / AMST 342

Class Details

What does it mean to “settle” land? What racial encounters and acts of survival took place around the plantation? How have farmworkers and landowners faced off against government policies and “agribusiness” corporations? What was the “Green Revolution” and why did it happen? Agriculture as a relation to land based on domestication, enclosure, and commerce has long been a means of and justification for racial and colonial dispossession and exploitation across the Americas, including what is now the United States. At the same time, an array of embodied practices in relation to the land and one another complicate and contest these histories of racial and colonial dispossession. Broadly, this course aims to familiarize students with the historical and present-day entwining of colonial and racial dispossession, exploitation, and resistance at the heart of U.S. economies of agriculture. By the end of this course, students should be able to analyze how the historical foundations of U.S. agriculture have entailed and intertwined the taking of lands and removal of Indigenous peoples, the enslavement of African peoples, mass migration, and various forms of exploitative labor. Students should also be able to assess how these historical foundations continued to serve as the material conditions reproduced throughout the course of the 19th and 20th centuries under discriminatory government policies and powerful “agribusiness” corporations, as well as the possibilities and limits of redress and reform through state and corporate action. Finally, students should be able to interpret how embodied practices in relation to the land and one another precede, exceed, and push against the logics and histories of racial and colonial dispossession. The course is organized around three units that interrogate economies of agriculture within and beyond the U.S. nation-state. Each unit interrogates a key period of time from the founding of the United States, through 20th-century Pax Americana, and on into the present. Finally, each unit does so while attending to the emergence and enactment of “food sovereignty” movements–efforts to foster a new international trade regime, agrarian reform, a shift to agroecological production practices, attention to gender relations and equity, and the protection of intellectual and indigenous property rights.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3339
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Participation: 25%; Weekly Response (350-500 words): 25%; Final Essay--Research proposal (2-3 pgs.): 10%; Final Essay--Peer review and feedback (2 pgs.): 10%; Final Essay--Presentation: 10%; Final Essay--Paper (15 pgs.): 20%
Prerequisites: AMST 101, AFR 200, and/or ENVI 101
Enrollment Preferences: AMST, AFR, ENVI
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENVI 349 Division II AFR 349 Division II AMST 342 Division II
WS Notes: One thesis paper at 15 pages. The writing process is staggered, with each part graded, and with critical feedback from professor and peers. Specifically, one research proposal (including thesis outline and annotated bibliography of primary texts) with feedback from professor; one thesis paper draft with feedback from peers; one letter of revision explaining the student's revision process; one final draft with critical feedback from professor; and student presentation and discussion.
DPE Notes: The course addresses issues of difference, power, and equity, and offers theoretical tools and perspectives to understand these issues. Specifically, students learn how to interpret how racialized and colonized peoples' visions, representations, and practices of liberation with regard to relations with non-human natures and the materiality of land precede, contend with, and exceed normative political, economic, and social categories of governance and systems of dispossession and exploitation.

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