2 More CFP’s: Estrangement & Belong in Global Agriculture and Anthropological Contributions to Theories of Change

Here are two more CFP’s for the upcoming #AmAnth2018 conference in November focusing on food. If you have a CFP you would like on our website, feel free to email me at mruthdike@uky.edu. Don’t forget the AAA submission portal will close at 3 pm Eastern on April 16. Please note that the portal will not allow new submissions after 2 pm Eastern, so be sure to start one before the deadline.

Foreignization, Farmland, and Food: Estrangement and Belonging in Global Agriculture

CFP: 2018 American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting

Serena Stein, Princeton University

Andrew Ofstehage, UNC-Chapel Hill

Keywords: agribusiness, food commodities, land grabs, migrant labor, belonging

This panel questions the meanings of estrangement in agribusiness, with respect to i) foreign investments and ‘land grabs’, ii) migrant labor and xenophobia, as well as iii) ecological alienation.

We bring together papers, with preference for those drawing on empirical research in the Global South, that consider how flows of people, capital, and crops generate anxieties, assemblages, and intimacies. We especially welcome papers that address how these flows create new local vernaculars of alterity of relatedness.

The farm, as a multispecies relational space, traverses boundaries of received categories such as culture, nation, race and kinship. Contemporary agribusiness relies on mobile participants in the global political economy who symbolize the cosmopolitan strivings of modern nations (Ong 1999). The plantation-ization of the farm assembles disparate plants, people, technologies, and animals to take advantage of climatic, financial, genetic, and cultural differences. Farms are locations for the production of alternative forms of belonging and fixity, in which intimate relations based on care and shared interests are in formation, as well as superseding the more problematic issues of belonging proffered by state ideologies. Thus, in the Plantationocene (Haraway 2015) processes of estrangement and familiarization work alongside each other to sever social and material relations and realities while generating novel ones.

The past decade has seen a growing interest and concern for global farmland investments in the Global South. National governments in Africa and South America have sought to curb these so-called land grabs by framing land deals with foreigners as dangers to national sovereignty (Fairbairn 2015). Several governments have passed laws to limit foreign acquisitions of farm land, capping foreign ownership and mandating majority-ownership by nationals. Brazilian critics of large land acquisitions frame land grabs as estrangerização, or ‘foreignization’ to differentiate it from the home-grown variety of land grabbing, known as grilagem.

However, this perspective also overlooks complexity in types of actors drawn to Brazilian land and flows of capital (Sauer and Leite 2012). The most recent wave of land grabs shows that the ‘foreign threat’ received disproportionate international media coverage to actual land investments. For example, Chinese government-backed farmland investments in Brazil, Mozambique and elsewhere were met with opposition from national legislatures and social movements, though they never materialized in real land use change. Furthermore, of the large-scale acquisitions that did take place, most of the leading actors are not easily identified by any single national origin. Further, in China and Brazil land use change is driven as much by Brazilian migrants from southern Brazil as foreign buyers, blurring the significance of foreign capital and actors (Borras et al. 2018). ‘Foreignness’ is a deeply inadequate basis upon which to conceptualize land deals, as land comes under the control of capital whose national affiliation is either unstable, multiple, non-transparent or simply designed to ensure preferential tax treatment. This also introduces important contrasts between ostensible and occult ownership (Oliveira 2018).

We look for papers that contradict portrayals of a generic ‘farm’ and highlight particular connections that exists in the midst of other tensions. We welcome papers that challenge existing frames of ‘foreignization,” not limited to the following themes:

  • Racial and ethnic formations of foreignization of farming
  • Generativity of plantation-style farms and foreign-owned farms
  • Personhood in transnational agriculture
  • Financialization and capitalization of agriculture
  • Migration and mobility of farm workers and farm owners
  • Transnational land deals
  • Internationalization of farming, farmers, and farm work
  • Global lives of plants, seeds, labor, and animals

Please send abstracts (250 words max) with paper title and presenter information to Serena Stein (serenas@princeton.edu) and Andrew Ofstehage (aofste@live.unc.edu) by Friday, April 6. We will notify selected participants by Monday, April 9. Session participants must be registered AAA members and registered for the meeting by April 16.


Borras Jr., Saturnino M., Juan Liu, Zhen Hu, et al.  2018. Land Control and Crop Booms inside China: Implications for How We Think about the Global Land Rush. Globalizations 15(1): 134–151.

Fairbairn, Madeleine 2014 “Like Gold with Yield”: Evolving Intersections between Farmland and Finance. Journal of Peasant Studies 41(5): 777–795.

Haraway, Donna. 2015. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin.” Environmental Humanities 6 (1): 159–65.

Oliveira, Gustavo. 2018 Chinese Land Grabs in Brazil: Sinophobia and Foreign Investments in Brazilian Soybean Agribusiness. Globalizations 15(1): 114-133.

Ong, Aiwa. 1999 Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality. Durham: Duke University Press.

Sauer, Sérgio, and Sergio Pereira Leite. 2012 Agrarian Structure, Foreign Investment in Land, and Land Prices in Brazil. Journal of Peasant Studies 39(3-4): 873–898.

Eating Away at Food System Problems:

Anthropological Contributions to Theories of Change

The Anthropocene is at a precipice. Human civilization’s current path of immense resource extraction, mass consumption, and waste generation is harming human and environmental health, and threatening the very survival of the species, and maybe the planet itself. Food is central to the problem since, globally, agriculture emits more greenhouse gases than transport and, annually, more people die from diet-linked chronic diseases than from all infectious afflictions, road accidents, and crime, war, and terrorist acts, combined. We need change on a large scale, and we need it fast.

Anthropology has amassed a rich record of primary data on and critical analyses of the drivers of eating (Mintz & DuBois 2002; Farb & Armelagos 1980) and farming (Netting 1993; Barlett 1980, 1989) practices in hundreds of cultures and groups. Yet, it trails behind other prominent disciplines, like psychology and economics, in building cohesive, evidence driven, and actionable theories of change. Historically, this lag is well-reasoned due to hesitations to repeat the mistakes of the past when some anthropological work served colonial and neocolonial racist projects (Lewis 1973). Yet, careful, respectful, and well-founded anthropological interventions that proceed with an eye on social justice (Bradley & Herrera 2016) are desperately needed to help heal human bodies and our natural communities.

In fitting with this year’s AAA meeting theme of Change in the Anthropological Imagination: Resilience, Resistance, and Adaptation, this session seeks papers from researchers who are laboring to distill anthropology’s insights into workable proposals for fostering individuals, communities, and societies to move towards greater food system sustainability (Holt-Gimenez 2011). It is the goal of this panel to generate discussion about how anthropology can theoretically contribute to reversing global ill health and promoting resilience in the face of global environmental change.

Whether their work intersects consumption and production, health and environmental sustainability, and/or conventional and alternative food networks, panelists are encouraged to draw out the theories of change that are the logical implications of their work, especially the links between individual, household, and community behavior change—whether manifested on the farm or on the plate—and food systems transformations. Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Implications from individual consumer or farmer narratives of personal change towards seeking to consume or produce healthier, more sustainable, and more ethical foods;
  • Ethnographic lessons from case studies of institutions that have achieved cultural and material changes in food purchasing or production practices;
  • Theoretical inferences drawn out of anthropologically informed, community-focused chronic disease prevention interventions that consistently lead to measurable positive results in the intersections of local eating and farming practices;
  • Theories of change derived from anthropological analyses of major food business changes and the social, ideological, and material bases that underpin them;
  • Syntheses of anthropological work on historical drivers of change in eating or farming practices and how positive, widespread, systemic transformations can be achieved in the future.

Due Date: If you would like to present on the panel, please send a 250-word abstract including title of paper, and author’s affiliation to Ioulia Fenton at ifenton@emory.edu by FridayApril 6, 2018Accepted presenters will be notified by April 12, 2018 in order to comply with the April 16 deadline for complete panel proposals. AAA guidelines and meeting information can be found HERE.

Session Organizer: Ioulia Fenton (Emory University)


Barlett, Peggy F. (1980) Adaptive Strategies in Peasant Agricultural Production. Annual Review of Anthropology, 9, 545-573.

Barlett, Peggy F. (1989) Industrial Agriculture. In Economic Anthropology. Stuart Plattner, ed. pp. 253-291. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Bradley, Katharine & Herrera, Hank (2016) Decolonizing Food Justice: Naming, Resisting, and Researching Colonizing Forces in the Movement, Antipode, 48:1, 97-114.

Farb, Peter & Armelagos, George (1980) Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Holt-Gimenez, Eric, ed. (2011) Food Movements Unite! Strategies to Transform our Food System.Oakland, CA: Food First Books.

Lewis, Diane (1973) Anthropology and Colonialism, Current Anthropology, 14:5, 581-602.

Mintz, Sidney W. & Dubois, Christine M. (2002) The Anthropology of Food and Eating, Annual Reviews of Anthropology, 31, 91-119.

Netting, Robert M.C.C. (1993) Smallholders, Householders: Farm Families and the Ecology of Intensive, Sustainable Agriculture, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

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