Agricultural History: Emerging Scholarship

Solicited by the Agricultural History Society

Friday, April 3, 2020, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Type: Lightning Round

Tags: Agricultural and Rural


Hot topics such as bioproducts, food security, renewable energy, race relations, racism, class conflict, rural-urban exchange, and environmental history all can be better understood by considering context that agricultural history (and farm life) provide. The Agricultural History Society invites emerging scholars to share an example of how agricultural history informs their work.

Papers Presented

Informing U.S. Agriculture Policy: Critical Research

From the perspective of a historian working in the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Presented By
Shelby Callaway, Natural Resources Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture

Agriculture and the Environment: A Plain’s Perspective

Writing a book about aerial chemical applications in the Great Plains afforded a new view of citizen science. The pilots studied aviation and applications, and they understood the landscape that they helped farmers manage. The case study explains the ways that data from many perspectives (literally on the ground and in the air) can lead to a more nuanced understanding about the real concerns raised by agricultural chemical applications. This talk concludes with a quick overview of what’s next on the research agenda and what sources will help make it happen.

Presented By
David Vail, University of Nebraska at Kearney

Animals in Agriculture

My current work involves interactions (on farms and in the archive) with cattle. This short presentation features some remarkable lessons learned about human and farm animal engagement based on those interactions.

Presented By
Nicole Welk-Joerger, University of Pennsylvania

Agricultural Architecture: Housing Labor on the Farm

Few scholars have written about where migrant laborers of color came to live on their migratory laboring journeys. however, public and private labor camps dominated the landscape of twentieth-century rural United States. This becomes even more complicated when examined through the lens of relational ethnic studies. This presentation will speak to the history of racialized migrant labor, agricultural history, and critical architecture studies.

Populism and the Business of Progress

My work combines studies of race, labor, politics, and economics in the postbellum South to better understand the rise of and challenges to corporate capitalism in the late nineteenth century. Farmers and laborers who confronted the social and political status quo of the first Gilded Age shared much in common with the challengers of the current status quo in our own Gilded Age. Although there are many distinctions we must make, there remain valuable lessons we can learn.

Presented By
Bryant Keith Barnes II, University of Georgia

Consonant Commodities: Child-Saving and Agricultural Specialization in the Empire State, 1853-1929

This 5-minute presentation will focus on my efforts to incorporate agricultural history into my research on the Children’s Aid Society’s placement of New York City dependent children on Upstate New York farms. This incorporation has broadened and deepened my understanding of the economies, ideologies, and processes of
social-welfare provision in New York State. It has also helped me to periodize my sociological insights and to clarify seemingly distinct socio-historical phenomena as connected and unfolding processes.

Presented By
Amy E. Traver, Queensborough Community College, CUNY

Session Participants

Chair: Frederick Rowe Davis, Purdue University

Chair: Debra A. Reid, Henry Ford Museum

Presenter: Bryant Keith Barnes II, University of Georgia

Presenter: Shelby Callaway, Natural Resources Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture

Presenter: Jonathan Cortez, Brown University

Presenter: Amy E. Traver, Queensborough Community College, CUNY

Presenter: David Vail, University of Nebraska at Kearney

Presenter: Nicole Welk-Joerger, University of Pennsylvania