Remaking Life Along the Commodity Chain

Authors: David Lansing*, University of Maryland - Baltimore County
Topics: Economic Geography, Agricultural Geography, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: economization, perofrmativity, biopolitics, antibiotic resistance, commodity chains
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Roosevelt 1, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria is an alarming threat to human health that is closely linked to practices found in the food system. This condition demands an examination of the connection between economies of food production and the political formations around securing human health. In this presentation, I take up this issue with regards to the broiler (chicken) industry’s shift to antibiotic free production. I examine the practices of measurement and assessment that allow for the broiler commodity chain to hold together. Doing so, I argue that the practices that allow for economic action toward broilers also shapes the politics of life that emerge around antibiotic use and control. Drawing on ideas from the economic performativity literature I suggest that the discursive and material practices that are essential for the broiler commodity chain to function are based on the demarcation of various points of inclusion and exclusion that allow for the economic subject positions of consumers, producers, and intermediaries to form. I suggest that these very same economizing practices of subject formation also create forms of political subjectivity that enable and constrain the range of political responses to a health threat. In this way, the broiler industry’s reaction to the threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria is an economic and a political response, where both forms of response emerge through the same suite of practices that define desirable and excluded forms of life.

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