Agribiopolitics: The health of plants and humans in the age of monocrops

The well-known story of biopolitics tells us that as Europe urbanized, security was increasingly linked to human well-being. What the story tends to leave out is the way that biopolitics also depended on the expansion of monocrop agriculture: the thriving of human populations was enabled by the thriving of non-human food crops, especially grains. As a result, new human diseases were also shadowed by new plant diseases, and a whole other, parallel governmental apparatus built to manage the crop health in rural Europe. During the great postwar development initiative known as the Green Revolution, plant health techniques would be expanded to the Global South in a massive realignment of biopolitical relations. Though the core tradition of biopolitical thought rarely made it explicit, biopolitics was always, in other words, agribiopolitics, a political technique that made certain populations of humans thrive alongside companion crops. Using Paraguay as a site of genealogical engagement, this paper explores agribiopolitical relations through three phases of the Green Revolution, culminating in the current age of monocrops.

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Volume 38 Issue 4

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