Andrew Flachs

Aug 27, 2021

Cultivating Knowledge

Biotechnology, Sustainability, and the Human Cost of Cotton Capitalism in India

University of Arizona Press 2019

Cultivating Knowledge: Biotechnology, Sustainability and the Human Cost of Cotton Capitalism in India by Andrew Flachs (University of Arizona Press, 2019) tells a story of how farmers in rural south India evaluate agricultural success through shifting calculations of social meaning, performance, and economic aspirations. Navigating multiple avenues of incentives, Dr. Flachs moves beyond the hidden links of consumption and production to concerns about how people engage with global change on the level of the farm field. By choosing to plant either genetically modified or certified organic cotton seeds, farmers risk their livelihoods by participating in diverging courses of sustainable agriculture. The farmer’s choice of seed reflects a performance of transformation regarding knowledge and agrarian sensibilities within rapidly changing socioeconomic and material realities that are influenced by both a colonial past and the neoliberal present. As Andrew put it, “a seed is a choice that cannot be taken back.(3)”

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