The core of the Agrarian Studies Program’s activities is a weekly colloquium organized around an annual theme. Invited specialists send papers in advance that are the focus of an organized discussion by the faculty and graduate students associated with the colloquium.
This topic embraces, inter alia, the study of mutual perceptions between countryside and city, and patterns of cultural and material exchange, extraction, migration, credit, legal systems, and political order that link them.
It also includes an understanding of how different societies conceive of the spatial order they exhibit. What terms are meaningful and how are they related?: e.g., frontier, wilderness, arable, countryside, city, town, agriculture, commerce, “hills,” lowlands, maritime districts, inland. How have these meanings changed historically and what symbolic and material weight do they bear?
Madeleine Fairbairn is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz. She does qualitative sociological research on the political economy of the global agro-food system. She is particularly interested in how transnational economic processes shape access to food, land, and other natural resources globally. Her current projects explore the financial sector’s growing interest in buying farmland, as well as the dynamics of the agri-food technology sector. Her first book, Fields of Gold: Financing the Global Land Rush, was released in 2020 by Cornell University Press.