Publication Date

Spring 5-17-2020


This dissertation is about how agricultural biotechnology was invoked in Argentina to rebuild the state and the economy after the 2001 economic crisis, which I approach by making visible the social lives of those experiencing the unintended consequences of a large-scale agrarian transformation. My starting point is to try to understand the paradoxical way that a leftist political project, Kirchnerismo, relied on and promoted an export driven soy boom as a way to rebuild the state after the 2001 economic crisis. While I do give significant attention to the high level state and industry practices, my goal is to examine how the unintended consequences of this agricultural transformation have become sites for local communities to advocate novel regulation. Their acts of discovery, pursuit of scientific knowledge, and political organizing constitute alternative and sometimes contrasting forms of repairing the Argentine state from the land up. To accomplish this, I offer three case studies, each of which examines a previously unimagined side effect of Argentina’s GM soy boom, including contestations over economic redistribution in the domain of federal export tax policy, the formation of political subjectivity in response to indiscriminate agrochemical spraying through (re)presenting the act as criminal, and coalition building across ideological lines in the image of scientific neutrality. While these are local bids to repair a state capable of delivering on its promises, each community’s visions of the future is wholly intertwined with settler imaginaries of what an Argentine democracy ought to be.


Argentina, GMOs, Environmental Anthropology, Anthropology of Policy, Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies, Repair

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Ronda Brulotte

Second Committee Member

Dr. Lindsay Smith

Third Committee Member

Dr. Erin Debenport

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Allison Loconto

Available for download on Monday, July 15, 2024