Conference Agenda

Summaries and basic information about congress panels. Please note that the panel identification numbers are provisional and that (pending the publication of the final program) they appear with a dummy date of celebration.

 
Session Overview
Session
S145: From Technological Agrarianisms to Technocratic Systems of Green Revolution. 1900-1990
Time:
Friday, 20/Jun/2025

Session Chair: Juan Pan-Montojo González;
Session Chair: Lourenzo Fernández Prieto;
ES+PT+EN

Session Abstract

O objetivo deste painel é analisar a transição nos modelos políticos, e sobre tudo, político-tecnológicos, entre a primeira metade do século do XX, quando nasceram os plurais movementos agraristas nos Occidentes, e a posguerra, quando às duas bandas do telão de aceiro impusso-se um modelo hegemónico de transformaçao tecno-social. Interessa-nos especialmente o estudo de:

1. Os espaços de conectividade entre técnicos e agricultores nos tempos da inovação da segunda onda da industrialização; as inovações e as resistências para interpretar a lógica das mudanças em relação com o mercado e com as condições produtivas e também reprodutivas dos casais agrários; o papel dos estados na construção dos sistemas públicos de inovação e o seu sentido político.

2. A aparição da tecnocracia como força autónoma das burocracias científicas, vinculada aos fascismos mas também a outras forças autoritárias, depois da Primeira Guerra Mundial.

3. As diferentes soluções dadas no mundo de entreguerras à participação política das massas camponesas nas propostas de progresso tecnológico por parte dos estados e dos movimentos políticos.

4. As propostas da revolução verde na lógica da modernização dos casais rurais e non só das suas agriculturas.

Este painel é um segundo passo, e ao mesmo tempo, uma ampliação e renovação da sessão que terá lugar em Lovaina em setembro do 2018.


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Presentations

“Against the Grain: Some Hope for Today from the Jewish Rural Past”

Jonathan Dekel-Chen

Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

What might the long history of Jewish agricultural resettlement be able to tell us today? Perhaps the hard-learned lessons from this past might be a cost-effective, useful vehicle to ease the immense suffering unleashed among dislocated civilians from the Near East and Africa. Could it be that lessons learned over many decades among Jewish farmers in the Americas, the FSU and of course in Israel could help bring relief to part of the multitudes of displaced refugees near their countries of origin or for those displaced in Europe? Although nothing can be said for certain, proven models of successful mass agrarian resettlement do exist in modern Jewish history.

This presentation begins with a brief overview of the global arc of modern Jewish agrarianization. It continues with a set of applied “lessons” from those many cases of organized resettlement in a variety of political regimes and environmental conditions. These could constitute a blueprint for contemporary reconstruction programs for endangered refugee communities and also perhaps ease some of the nationalist tensions in Europe around this latest wave of migration.


Modernisation of Rural Landscape before and after World War II in Taiwan: the Case of Jianan Irrigation System

Chun-Hsi Wang

National Taipei University, Taiwan

The Jianan Irrigation System, built in 1920s, consisted of reservoir, various water works, and canals, is one of important modern achievement to Taiwan during the Japanese Colonial Period (1895-1945). Through the system and its related structures, dry farmland depended on rainfall in the past were transformed into productivity paddy fields, for which it became a remarkable milestone in the history of Taiwan. After the World War II, new political and international scheme established. Sino-American Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction, which established in 1948, became the most important organization on the guiding rural and economic development policy. Not until 1979, with joint efforts from the government of the United States, new agriculture policy and development aims were regulated, which have influenced the rural landscape and industry in Taiwan. In this paper, different agriculture policy in the field of Jianan Irrigation System will be explored, and influences of landscape will be also analyzed through different documents, literatures, and government records.


Industrial expansion and agricultural change

Paul William Brassley

University of Exeter, UK, United Kingdom

The idea of modernity in the countryside is conventionally associated with the concept of an industrialised agriculture, but the relationship between agricultural change and the growth of urban industry has been less explored. Yet urban industrialisation creates a demand for labour, of which the agricultural sector may be the only source, and is also likely, in the long run at least, to increase the demand for agricultural products. This paper sets out to test the hypotheses that (1) peak rates of agricultural output growth are associated in time with peaks of industrial growth, and that (2) labour-demanding industrial growth either absorbs surplus or under-employed farm labour or promotes labour-replacing technical changes in agriculture. It should be possible to test these hypotheses across several different countries and time periods.


Early modernization success and late adaption problems in the Danish agrarian sector, 1880 - 1972

Thomas Christiansen

Independent, Denmark

In the late 19’th century, the Danish agrarian sector - including the processing industry – experienced a fast modernisation, which enabled a successful penetration of export markets with high value animal products. Simultaneously, there was a political, economic and cultural mobilization of the countryside, which culminated in 1901 with the first government led by “Venstre”, a politically liberal party, which mainly represented the interest of the influential medium size farmers.

The production model faced exogenous challenges during the world wars and the 1930s, and at the political and organizational level the hegemony of the established players was also challenged from the political right during the 1930s. Nevertheless, well into the 1950s, the political, economic and cultural setup introduced in the late 19’th century remained an important factor in Danish society. However, by the late 1950s the model faced challenges, which were difficult to overcome, without a thorough modernization and consolidation at the farm level and in the processing industry. Yet, the cultural and organizational tradition and the uncertainty regarding Denmark’s eventual membership of the EEC, contributed to a hesitant response in the 1960s to the problems, both from within the sector and from the political sphere.


Da selección á indución? Análise de dous modelos de cambio tecnolóxico a través do caso da introdución de tractores na agricultura galega 1920-1975.

Bruno Esperante Paramos

Universidade de Santiago de Compostela. Grupo HISTAGRA, Spain

O obxectivo principal desta comunicación é describir unha determinada traxectoria histórica de cambio tecnolóxico a través da introdución de tractores na agricultura en Galiza. Este proceso preséntase determinado por dous contextos político-institucionais ben diferenciados pola picota da 2 Guerra Mundial. Non obstante, centrarémonos sobre todo na intensificación das dinámicas de produción capitalistas na agricultura baixo a Ditadura Franquista. Deste xeito, e baixo o pano de fondo da hexemonía tecnolóxica e militar dos EE.UU, reflexionaremos sobre os roles xogados polo Estado, o mercado e a sociedade nun novo contexto. Con todo, buscarase debater acerca das lóxicas do cambio tecnolóxico baixo o influxo das teses da Green Revolution e das súas formas e impactos tanto en perspectivas macro como micro. Intentarase así dar resposta á cuestión da indución ou selección duns determinados itinerarios tecnolóxicos na agricultura, as súas lóxicas, as súas contradicións, alternativas e impactos no caso concreto da agricultura familiar e de pequena escala.


On this Side of the Wall: West Germany’s Green Revolution in the 20th Century

Gesine Gerhard

University of the Pacific, United States of America

The history of rural transformation in Germany during the 20th century often reads like a success story. An agricultural sector that at the beginning of the 20th century was threatened by economic crisis, globalization and political divisions, found itself 60 years later cushioned in a European agricultural system that spent large sums of money to protect domestic agricultural production and to preserve the remaining facets of rural life. The number of peasants had shrunk dramatically, but those agricultural producers were integrated into the social market economy. The main agricultural interest organization had a voice in political decision making. Peasants had become farmers. But is this the only way to read the history of German agriculture in the 20th century? Who were the winners and losers? What effect did agricultural modernization have on the family farm and on the various actors in the countryside? What were the alternatives proposed? In the German case, we encounter two ways to modernization: the socialist experience in the Workers and Peasants’ State of the German Democratic Republic, and the market-driven economy in the Federal Republic of Germany. This paper will focus on the West German “Green Revolution” in the context of a divided country.


On the "Institutional Cloning" Hypothesis. United States Agricultural Cooperation Programmes in Latin America Since World War II

Wilson Picado, José Fernández

Universidad Nacional, Costa Rica

The paper analyses the implementation of United States cooperation programs in Latin America from WWII to 1955. It argues that the programs’ capability for “institutional cloning” was key to their operation in fields such as agriculture and health over the region. Projects and processes were successfully cloned from one country to another despite of their variegated political, economic and social contexts. Its first part analyzes the institutional context in the United States in which the cooperation programs were created. The following section explores the administrative and institutional logic ruling these programs. Finally, the final section compares the performance of the Servicio Técnico de Cooperación Agrícola (STICA) in Costa Rica, and the Servicio Cooperativo Interamericano de Producción de Alimentos (SCIPA) in Perú.


Modernization of Swedish farming, from the late 1940s to the late 1980s: Another tractor, or a more rational kitchen?

Carin Martiin

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden

The late 1940s to the end of the 1980s saw explicit political aims for modernization and rationalization of Swedish farming being formulated and realized. Step by step average farm sizes rose and the use of purchased inputs, such as tractors, fertilizers, pesticides and electricity increase. At the same time large shares of the many small holdings disappeared, and the comparably vast countryside became even more sparsely populated. Over time many farmers found themselves more or less alone, having to manage more hectares and more farm animals, without being able to compensate for all of this through rationalization. This opened for alternative ways to consider the continued modernization and rationalization in Swedish farming, which is the focus of this paper that highlights how authorities and even the tractor industry put attention to how extra work hours might be made available for work in the barn and on the land, if just the household could be rationalized, too.


Modernizing the Hungarian agriculture through a transsystemic transfer during the 1960-1970’s

Zsuzsanna Varga

Eötvös Lorand University, Hungary

After the completion of collectivization in early 1960s most countries in the Soviet Bloc faced serious food shortages because the new collective farms failed for years to produce their anticipated results. This situation prompted the Hungarian political leadership to strike new compromises with collective farms’ members in addition to the living standards-political promises that it had already made. Learning from the West represented the other means of addressing post-collectivization problems.

The focus of my paper is on the so-called transsystemic transfer that had produced a unique hybrid agricultural system in Hungary by the 1970s, one in which modern Western John Deere, Claas and Steiger machinery cultivated the land on socialist state and collective farms that had been established on the Soviet model. This transsystemic transfer resulted in the transplantation of the most modern capitalist production systems into socialist large-scale farms; it quickly generated a dramatic rise in production and thus the end of food shortage in Hungary. In my paper I’ll investigate not only the economic, but also the social consequences of the transsystemic transfer.

The methodology I use in my analysis is based primarily on the new analytic approach integrating historical comparison and transfer research called transnational comparison.


What kind of change? A proposal for conceptualising the fundamental changes and continuities in agriculture 1900-1990

Peter Moser

Archives of Rural History, Switzerland

While agriculture has undoubtedly experienced fundamental changes in the 20th century, there are also continuities to be observed. Therefore, for a better understanding of the often intriguing character of the agricultural modernisation in the 20th century a more precise explanation is needed than simply determining a transition process. In order to do this, this contribution suggests to look more closely at the interactions between the resource basis and the epistemic cultures. By doing so we can identify an overlapping of the “agrarian-industrial knowledge society” (which emerged in the second half of the 19th century) by a newly evolving “industrial-agrarian knowledge society” in the 1950/60s where elements of the "old" and the "new" agriculture are closely entangled. This historical approach allows us a better grasp of the contemporaries and social scientists similarly irritating developments in agricultural modernisation in the second half of the 20th century.


Modernising the farmer in Belgium. The introduction and diffusion of tractors, 1920s-1960s

Yves Segers

KU Leuven, Belgium

The increasing scarcity of labour in agriculture and the higher wages for farmhands, ensured that farmers in Belgium from the interwar period onwards resorted more and more to mechanization and motorisation. Farmers organisations, the national and provincial authorities fostered knowledge initiatives and set up applied research stations to support the transformation towards a modern, more productive agriculture. The quintessential symbol of this development was the tractor which crowded out the farm horse in the 1940s-1960s, thanks to new improvements, such as three point charge, PTO and a greater bearing capacity. It also paved the way for the automation of new crops and processing methods. The impact of the tractor on farm work cannot be overestimated. Between 1950 and 1970 the number of tractors in Belgium grew with factor 6.

This paper unravels and studies the introduction and diffusion of tractors from the 1920s till the 1960s (numbers, geographical distribution,…) and questions why Belgian farmers opted relatively late for tractor power. It analyses the discourses and policies of the State, the farmers’ unions and agronomists regarding agrarian modernization and especially the role of the tractor in this process.


(Re)configurações do Sistema Agrícola em Pitões da Júnias nos ultimos trinta anos a partir do milho

Diego Amoedo Martínez

UNICAMP, Brasil

O cultivo do milho em Pitões das Júnias (Trás-os-Montes, Portugal) passou a ser relevante no sistema agrário da aldeia em apenas vinte anos. Pitões é uma aldeia de montanha que se encontra a 1200 metros de altitude. Na década de 1980 se adicavam as terras mais soalheiras e protegidas do norte para o cultivo do milho país, cuja destinação principal era a alimentação do gado miúdo (galinhas e porcos) assim como as pessoas. Já na década de 1990 via a irrupção das variedades híbridas e do processo técnico da ensilagem, esse cultivo se destina principalmente à alimentação das vitelas, de cuja venda para o mercado de carne local depende maioritariamente a economia local. Afirmam que o contato entre país-híbrido ajudou a melhorar a sua variedade do país. Identificamos já no terceiro lustro do século XXI agricultores que experimentam o ensilado de aveia e ervilheca que poderiam vir a substituir o milho. Nesse processo curto de tempo e através das narrativas dos agricultores e de nossa experiência de trabalho de campo etnográfico na região desde o ano 2011, pretendemos com esta apresentação abordar o (re)configurações do sistema agrícola local acompanhando a produção de milhos


Modernización en la agricultura gallega a través de la innovación pecuaria: la especialización láctea en Galicia (1920-1975)

Telmo Otero Rodríguez

Universidade de Santiago de Compostela - Histagra, España

Para esta comunicación nos centraremos en una de las claves de la modernización agraria en Galicia: la ganadería y la especialización láctea de la misma. Esta ya sería visualizada como una opción productiva durante el 1º tercio del SXX, e iría alcanzando protagonismo sobre la producción cárnica en el contexto de la Rev. Verde y la creciente integración de las familias campesinas en las dinámicas del mercado y del capitalismo.

Pretendemos entonces en primer lugar acercar indicios de una incipiente especialización láctea en las primeras décadas del SXX; después analizaremos la evolución del proceso a partir de las definiciones en materia ganadera de la política agraria franquista cuando la especialización láctea sea un objetivo modernizador a alcanzar, así como su puesta en práctica con la incorporación de frisonas a las explotaciones en los años sesenta, momento en el cual el proceso comienza a ser realmente efectivo.

Partimos así de asumir la transformación ganadera hacia la especialización láctea como un proceso de innovación tecnológica constante durante el SXX pero con rupturas y continuidades derivadas de los dos marcos político-tecnológicos ambivalentes que suponen los movimientos agraristas primero y posteriormente el autoritarismo del régimen franquista y la aplicación de la Rev. Verde.


The Agro-Productivist Transition: Austria in the European Context, 1930-1960

Ernst Langthaler

Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria

European agriculture experienced a fundamental shift between 1930 and 1960 which can be conceptualized as 'productivist transition', i.e. the shift to capital intensive, growth-oriented and specialized farming, integrated via upstream and downstream flows into industrial commodity chains. The case of Austria provides a prism to the strands of the agro-productivist transition at both macro and micro scales. The Nazi era 1938 to 1945 appears as a crucial watershed in this regard: though the technical transition of agriculture was soon abandoned due to war priorities, the institutional transition subordinated family farms to bureaucratic and commercial imperatives. Seen in the European context, the Austrian agro-productivist transition reveals both special and general features.


Resistências, adaptações e conflitos no contexto da modernização do agro da Galiza (1959-1986).

Alba Díaz Geada

Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Espanha

Uma das principais reorientações produtivas trazidas pela política agrária estadual e as diretrizes internacionais para o agro galego tem sido a especializaçâo leiteira. Num processo gradual de intensificação e concentração produtiva, muitas casas camponesas têm modulado seu espaço produtivo e reprodutivo, condicionado por diversas políticas e condições de mercado. O que pretendemos neste texto é, por um lado, estudar os diferentes mecanismos através dos quais este processo foi promovido durante os anos sessenta até a década de oitenta do século XX. Também tentaremos atender os vários agentes envolvidos na participação da comunidade na sua diferença social, explorando a importância das pertenças e as diferenças na configuração desta reorientação produtiva. Lidaremos, neste sentido, com as várias resistências, adaptações e conflitos que algumas políticas ou projetos industriais deram origem, em sua dimensão diacrônica, bem como os significados mudados e opostos enfrentados no processo. Também tentaremos lançar as bases para uma abordagem comparativa com o caso da especialização leiteira em outra periferia do Atlântico, a Bretanha francesa.


The European roots of the democratic agrarianism of Wolf Ladejinsky

Federico D'Onofrio

Université de Lausanne, Switzerland

The roots of all kind of agrarianism (technocratic ruralism or democratic agrarianism) lie probably in the reaction to the “agrarian crisis” of the 1870s. In my contribution, I will show the fundamental ambiguity between productivist and more democratic tendencies of early 20th-century agrarianism, while a democratic and productivist agrarianism seemed to emerge as distinct and conflicting options during the Interwar.

Finally, I will discuss the end of the agrarianist paradigm, by exploring the economic meaning attributed by the American Wolf Ladejinsky to agrarian reforms in developing countries. As a member of the New Deal administration, Ladejinsky began analyising the reason of Lenin’s success in Russia. Eventually, on behalf of the US Agriculture and State Departments, he supervised the agrarian reforms of Japan and Taiwan in the 1940s. He represented therefore a bridge between the democratic agrarianism of the Intewar and the new necessities of development.

Ladejinsky always claimed that, alongside social and political value, agrarian reforms had an important economic content and contributed to increase production. After the Green Revolution, this point lost its centrality in the arguments made in favour of agrarian reform. Ladejinsky’s work, therefore, shows a paradigmatic change that took place in agricultural development in the 1960s.


Dos camponeses con ciencia aos agricultores modernizados: os papeis dos sujeitos nos modelos tecnológicos do século XX na Península Ibérica

Lourenzo Fernández Prieto3, Juan Pan-Montojo1, Daniel Lanero Taboas2

1Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Espanha; 2Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, España; 3Universidade de Santiago de Compostela. Galicia. España

O objectivo desta comunicaçao é a exploraçao dos roles que os agricultores desempenharon no cambio tecnológico ao longo do século XX. Ocupámonos de dúas preguntas: Quen escolle a nova tecnología e a quen beneficiou. Identificamos unha mudanza radical na Agricultura Atlántica Ibérica no proceso de cambio tecnológico na agricultura arredor da IIª guerra mundial. A transiçao dunha agricultura baseada na biosfera a outra dependete da litosfera acompañouse da mudanza nos modelos de reláçao entre a ciencia (os técnicos) e os agricultores para outro baseado na colaboraçao entre os ténicos e as companhias e dirigido pelo estado

The main
aim of this paper is to explore the role of farmers in technological change
throughout 20th Century. We’d like to answer two connected questions: Who chose
new technology and who benefitted it? In the Atlantic Iberian Agriculture we
have identified a breakdown in technological change processes in agriculture
around 1940/45. Transition from biosphere to lithosphere based agriculture was
accompanied by a shift from a technicians-farmers cooperation model to a
companies-technicians collaboration one. And also a change in the State rol.


Low Modernism, High Modernism, and the Challenges to American Agriculture in the mid-20th Century

Deborah K Fitzgerald

MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts

In the past few years, scholars have tried to describe what happened to American agriculture beginning in the 1920s and continuing into the Green Revolution of the 1950s and 60s. “High Modernism,” a term used by political scientist James Scott in his book Seeing Like a State, posits that the state and its experts began viewing the rural landscape, not as a place-specific, organic, and irreducible part of rural livelihoods and experience, but more similar to a coal mine awaiting extraction. I, in turn, used this notion in Every Farm a Factory, to describe how science and technology fundamentally reshaped the American farm experience in the 1920s. More recently, rural sociologist Jess Gilbert, in his book Planning Democracy, took issue with this idea, proposing instead a “low modernism” in which science and technology were combined with folk knowledge, local customs, and farmer participation in decision making.

In this paper, I would like to explore both the challenges to making such generalizations work in the American context, as well as some examples of why and how the application of science and technology to agriculture and rural life seem to

drive agricultural practice away from traditional prerogatives fairly decisively.


'Which path to modernisation? Early doubts about the Green Revolution'

Jonathan Harwood

University of Manchester & Kings College London

As is well-known, the 1950s and ‘60s were a period of rapid technical ‘modernisation’ in agriculture, not only in Europe and North America but also in the global South. The earliest development programmes in what became known as the ‘Green Revolution’ (GR), for example, began in Mexico and Latin America in the 1940s and spread to South Asia in the 1950s and ‘60s. By 1970, however, it was becoming clear that the GR’s particular approach to ‘modernisation’ was controversial since critics from several countries drew attention to its undesireable social and environmental consequences.

A common response among defenders of the GR at the time was ‘Since the GR was a novel undertaking, we did not anticipate these problems but will now try to address them’. What this response overlooked (or simply ignored) is that the GR approach had in fact met with scepticism already in the 1940s and ‘50s. In part the criticism came from South Asian agricultural scientists who, working in a more ecologically-oriented tradition of agricultural science, were doubtful that the 'one-size-fits-all' strategy embodied in the GR was the best way to go. In addition by the 1950s the unfortunate social consequences of a similar strategy of technical modernisation in the US were becoming clear. Nevertheless, doubts about the wisdom or efficacy of this approach to modernisation were pushed aside as the GR’s champions sought to demonstrate the power of new technology. This episode raises a number of issues about the role of experts in the development process.



 
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