Thesis Abstract – 31 October, 2017

31 October, 2017 - Thesis

In 1943 the Rockefeller foundation, nominally in partnership with the Mexican government, initiated its Mexican Agriculture Program (MAP). Over the subsequent decades, as MAP evolved into the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (sp. CIMMYT), a complex network of inter-governmental/NGO relationships was formalized along the model developed in Mexico. The dissemination of this research and educational model of agronomic “rationalization” to much of the Global South became retroactively known as the “Green Revolution.” This paper argues that this imposition of “rational” agronomy and agricultural economics through mechanization, monoculture, and synthetic inputs is constitutive of “epistemic colonialism,” what Boaventura de Sousa Santos calls “epistemicide.” It does so by examining the tension between Oaxacan Zapotec agroecology and Euro-American technoscientific agronomy during and in the aftermath of the “Green Revolution” (1945-1985). The acceptance of indigenous knowledge making practices, and especially traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), as scientific work, remains contested territory within the history of science and technology. Though Oaxacan Zapotec agroecological practices have received much attention from ethnobiologists (Eugene Hunn; Roberto Gonzalez), they figure very little in the history of science and technology literatures. This paper, then, also deploys Zapotec agroecology, as a reaction against/solution to “rationalization,” as a case study in epistemic anti-colonialism and as a referendum on the porosity of the boundaries between Western and Indigenous epistemologies both in agronomy and in Science and Technology Studies.

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