Unsettling the Agrarian Imaginary: Race, Agrarianism, and the Domestic
My research examines representations of African American farmers and the racial, gendered, and sexual subject positions produced, promoted, and excluded at the intersection of domesticity and American agrarianism. My project elucidates the cultural forms that have informed racialized histories of disenfranchisement of African American farmers. Central to my analysis is the relationship between the representational economy of food production in the United States, normative and queer formations of domesticity, and the environmental-spatial production of possibilities for the existence of sanctioned subjectivities. I compare dominant media and African American cultural texts during three significant periods for U.S. agriculture between 1930 and 2013, and analyze symbols of domesticity and agrarianism and their socio-historical, political, and geographic contexts. My project simultaneously demonstrates the ways the American agrarian imaginary has been produced and negotiated, and how identity and power have been theorized as such.
Hossein Ayazi is a PhD Candidate in Society and Environment, in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. His research fields include Agrarian Studies, American Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, and Settler Colonial Studies. His dissertation examines the history and influence of agrarianism in the United States (i.e., the visions of social life and selfhood, modes of ethics, and conceptions of place-making that are rooted in agricultural practice and uphold the farmer as the model of U.S. citizenship). He focuses upon two youth-based vocational agriculture education organizations: the Future Farmers of America and its black counterpart during segregation, the New Farmers of America. Ultimately, his research aims to address the structure of U.S. settler colonialism and the racial regimes that encode and reproduce it, and to mark agrarianism as a key modality through which both are upheld and contested.