Current Institutional Affiliation
Freelance Writer

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2010
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Geography, University of California / Berkeley
Grounding New Deal Power in the Americas: Soil Science and Development before Truman (1929-49)

The Green Revolution is widely considered agricultural science’s contribution to the post-war rise of global US influence in the 20th century. However, the Green Revolution was not the first attempt by the United States to further its global ambitions through the extension of state agricultural expertise, nor was it the inevitable outcome of scientific attention to agricultural production in the 1930s and 1940s. In this dissertation, I will argue that the New Deal era, marked by the US Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, was in fact the birthplace of a radically different mode of transnational agrarian planning, a mode that was actively exported through the Americas during the Second World War. These USsponsored hemispheric development programs drew on ideological strategies of the Mexican Revolution and were rooted in notions of collectivist conservationism, cultural pluralism, and democratic resource management. The result of scientific experiments by teams of Interior Department anthropologists, sociologists, and soil scientists working to combat erosion on US Indian tribal lands, New Deal-era land management models attended to both the cultural and biological processes at work in diverse environmental and political contexts. This research is a comparative examination of three local manifestations of this project. In the US, I will consider contested de-stocking programs on the tribal lands of the Navajo Nation. In Latin America, I will turn to US-sponsored agrarian development under shifting property relations in Colombia’s Cauca Valley and to scientific research and development in the indigenous eijidos of Michoacán, Mexico.