This research examines seemingly small decisions, such as the particular seeds farmers plant, to investigate how people manage food and agriculture systems and what role larger institutions play in guiding their behavior. For this project I combined quantitative demographic, economic, and biodiversity data with ethnographic detail to develop the first comprehensive study comparing the social politics of biotechnology and alternative agriculture on farms in South India. Designing my research at the intersection of anthropology and environmental studies, I ask how new technologies become viable, sustainable elements in daily life. While others have argued that these technologies are simply ‘better mousetraps’ for modern farmers, I showed that the success of genetically modified (GM) or organic seeds instead depend on farmers’ capacity to build nuanced local knowledge about their seeds. This project has been funded in part by the National Geographic Young Explorer's Grant, the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, the Lynne Cooper Harvey Fellowship, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the John Templeton Foundation.
Publications related to this project:
Flachs, Andrew. 2019. “Planting and Performing: Anxiety, Aspiration, and “Scripts” in Telangana Cotton Farming.” American Anthropologist, 121(1):48-61.
Flachs, Andrew. 2018 “The Factish in the Field: An Anthropological Inquiry of Genetically Modified Seeds and Yields as Beings.” Science and Technology Studies, published online July 31, 2018.
Flachs, Andrew. 2018. “Listing at Multiple Stages: Using Key Informants and Walking Probes to Generate Efficient and Accurate Lists During Larger Surveys.” Field Methods, 30(3):175-190.
Flachs, Andrew. 2017. “ Show Farmers: Transformative Sentiment and Performance in Organic Agricultural Development in South India.” Culture, Agriculture, Food, and Environment, 39(1):25-34.
Flachs, Andrew. 2016. “The Economic Botany of Organic Cotton Farms in Telangana, India.” Journal of Ethnobiology, 36(3):683-713.
Flachs, Andrew. 2016. Cultivating Knowledge: The Production and Adaptation of Knowledge on Organic and GM Cotton Farms in Telangana, India. Doctoral Dissertation, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri.
Flachs, Andrew. 2016. “Redefining Success: The Political Ecology of Genetically Modified and Organic Cotton as Solutions to Agrarian Crisis.” Journal of Political Ecology, 23(1):49-70.
Flachs, Andrew. 2015 “Persistent Agrobiodiversity on Genetically Modified Cotton Farms in Telangana, India.” Journal of Ethnobiology, 35(2):406-426.