Geneva Smith

Publication Date

Fall 7-1-2013


Set in rural Argentina, debates over cultural recognition, land rights, and economic opportunity have been waged throughout the countrys history. By lodging the analysis in Argentina's rural zones, this project examines the series of neoliberal economic policies that led to a widespread shift to agricultural biotechnology, the ensuing social effects including urbanization due to decreasing rural labor opportunities, and the potential for new or hybridized political economies in the form of post-neoliberalism that have emerged out of Argentina's devastating 2001 economic crisis. In recent years, there have been accelerated agronomic and demographic shifts in Argentina's rural sector as farmers turn increasingly to genetically modified soybeans, turning the country into one of the world leading exporters. Traditionally, the free-range cattle industry has been a reliable source of profit in Argentina, however the sector is in decline largely due to the increase in feedlot cattle production, imported agricultural biotechnologies whereby farmers no longer rely on the system of crop and cattle rotations, and strict governmental regulations regarding exports. As such, I investigate the affective and material co-production of historically derivative celebrations of gaucho traditions that spark contemporary sociality and the work of free-range cattle herders (gauchos) today as one example, among many possible rural labor markets made precarious by neoliberalism and agricultural biotechnology. From the persistence of gaucho labor to newly urbanized constituents organizing behind President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner against the wolfish tendencies of the landed oligarchy, we must ask: What are the possibilities for Argentina to enter this moment of modernity alongside the new Latin American left by expanding social programs that are funded by taxes garnered by deepening its ties to the global export market, which simultaneously weakens its domestic rural labor market?'


Argentina, Neoliberalism, Genetically Modified Organisms, Agricultural Biotechnology

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Lindsay, Smith

Second Committee Member

Cristobal, Valencia

Third Committee Member

Ronda, Brulotte

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