Biological Economies : Experimentation and the politics of agri-food frontiers book cover
1st Edition

Biological Economies
Experimentation and the politics of agri-food frontiers

ISBN 9781138588936
Published April 9, 2018 by Routledge
274 Pages 28 B/W Illustrations

USD $52.95

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Book Description

Recent agri-food studies, including commodity systems, the political economy of agriculture, regional development, and wider examinations of the rural dimension in economic geography and rural sociology have been confronted by three challenges. These can be summarized as: ‘more than human’ approaches to economic life; a ‘post-structural political economy’ of food and agriculture; and calls for more ‘enactive’, performative research approaches. 

This volume describes the genealogy of such approaches, drawing on the reflective insights of more than five years of international engagement and research. It demonstrates the kinds of new work being generated under these approaches and provides a means for exploring how they should be all understood as part of the same broader need to review theory and methods in the study of food, agriculture, rural development and economic geography. This radical collective approach is elaborated as the Biological Economies approach. The authors break out from traditional categories of analysis, reconceptualising materialities, and reframing economic assemblages as biological economies, based on the notion of all research being enactive or performative.

Table of Contents

1. Assembling Generative Approaches in Agri-food Research 

Nick Lewis, Richard Le Heron, Michael Carolan, Hugh Campbell and Terry Marsden 

Part 1: Re-making Knowledges of Agri-food 

2. Practices, Qualities and the Vital Materialism of Food: Biological Economies and Processes of Consumption 

David Evans 

3. The Borderlands of Animal Disease: Knowing and Governing Animal Disease in Biological Economies 

Gareth Enticott 

4. Re-shaping "Soft Gold": Fungal Agency and the Bioeconomy in the Caterpillar Fungus Market Assemblage 

Janke Linke 

5. Enacting Swiss Cheese: About the Multiple Ontologies of Local Food 

Jeremie Forney 

6. Worlds of Rice: Understanding Agri-food Systems as Assemblages 

Angga Dwiartama, Chris Rosin and Hugh Campbell 

7. Materialising Taste: Fatty Lambs to Eating Quality, Taste Projects in Red Meat

Matt Henry and Michael Roche

8. Enactive Encounters with the Langstroth Hive: Post-human Framing of the Work of Bees 

Roseanna Spiers and Nick Lewis  

9. Ever-Redder Apples: How Aesthetics Shape the Biology of Markets 

Katharine Legun 

10. Value and Values in the Making of Merino 

Harvey Perkins and Eric Pawson 

11. Eating the Unthinkable: The Case of ENTO, Eating Insects and Bioeconomic Experimentation 

Paul V. Stock, Catherine Phillips, Hugh Campbell and Anne Murcott 

12. Enacting BAdairying: Towards an Emergent Politics of New Soil Resourcefulness? 

Richard Le Heron, Geoff Smith, Erena Le Heron and Mike Roche 

Part 2: Enacting New Politics of Knowledge 

13. In Your Face: Why Food Is Politics and Why We Are Finally Starting to Admit It 

Michael M. Bell 

14. Geographers at Work in Disruptive Human-biophysical Projects: Methodology as Ontology in Reconstituting Nature-society Knowledge 

Erena Le Heron, Nick Lewis and Richard Le Heron 

15. Food Utopias: Performing Emergent Scholarship and Agri-food Futures 

Chris Rosin, Paul Stock and Michael Carolan 

16. The Very Public Nature of Agri-food Scholarship, and its Problems and Possibilities 

Michael Carolan 

17. Eating Bioeconomies 

Michael Goodman 

18. Biological Economies as an Academic and Political Project 

Hugh Campbell, Richard Le Heron, Michael Carolan and Nick Lewis

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Richard Le Heron is Professor of Geography, School of Environment, The University of Auckland, New Zealand. 

Hugh Campbell is Chair of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work, University of Otago, New Zealand. 

Nick Lewis is Associate Professor in Geography, School of Environment, The University of Auckland, New Zealand. 

Michael Carolan is Chair of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Colorado State University, USA.


"In Biological Economies, Le Heron and colleagues offer up a path-breaking analysis at the nexus of key agri-food studies issues and propel the reader through existing contradictions and tensions to help us imagine how agri-food systems can be transformed. In defining key international strands, this book enables the reader to both understand the state of the art in food studies and to reconstitute the pieces we have on hand into a more productive whole."Alison Blay-Palmer, Centre for International Governance Innovation Chair in Sustainable Food Systems, Waterloo, Canada. 

"If we are what we eat, then who do we become when we choose to eat differently? This brilliant book offers inspiring answers to this important question. It ranges far beyond the familiar criticisms of processed food, fast food and chemical-intensive farming. It presents arguments for, and examples of, new and better ways to embed food in our material and moral lives."Noel Castree, University Manchester, UK, and University of Wollongong, Australia. 

"An important and timely intervention in agri-food studies, Biological Economies has ‘mind-melting’ ambitions – disrupting orthodox categories and fostering a new research agenda. Radically relational, the book’s transformative potential is illustrated via a series of provocative case studies."Peter Jackson, University of Sheffield, UK. 

"If you like your agrifoodstudies savvy, layered, decentred, well-storied and lively, this is your book! The cases are varied, the curiosity and dedication run all the way through."Annemarie Mol, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 

"Biological Economies is a fascinating collection that breaks new ground in agri-food research. Conceptually and methodologically innovative and supported by rich and diverse case studies, this is a must-read for anyone interested in the political-economies of food in the twenty-first century."Michael Woods, Aberystwyth University, UK.