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Assembling Agricultural Science: Science Regimes, Thinking Infrastructures and Productivist Knowledge Production in New Zealand

Authors: Matthew Henry*, Massey University
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Australia and New Zealand, Historical Geography
Keywords: Agriculture, New Zealand, Science, Infrastructure, Productivism
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Agriculture's horizons are filled with matters of concern, ranging from the potential disruption of commodity markets from alternative proteins, anxieties about animal welfare and the shifting politics of consumption, through to environmental degradation and climate change. The matters of concern are numerous, and the horizon is getting closer. In this context technoscience is almost inevitably the obligatory point of passage through which answers to these issues flow. This paper examines the assemblage of a technoscience regime in New Zealand after World War Two framed by the moral, economic and political imperatives of productivism. Drawing on archival research this paper traces the assemblage of this regime and suggests that it needs to be seen as an infrastructural project that has been largely invisible, both in accounts of New Zealand’s development, and the wider agrifood literature. The paper argues that while this project has been largely invisible, it nonetheless constituted a materially embedded thinking infrastructure whose effect was to provide a framework of possibilities about the making of animals and farms, and the complex topologies of connection to commodity markets and distant consumers. While now stretched the knowledge and decision-making practices constituted through this infrastructure have remained remarkably durable, and remarkably effective in channelling contemporary agricultural trajectories. Consequently, in order to understand responses to agriculture’s approaching matters of concern we need to critically understand the quiet, continuing work of the thinking infrastructures developed in places such as New Zealand.

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