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Title:[De]stabilizing the neoliberal food regime: the struggle for the defense of corn in Mexico
Author(s):Peralta, Jose
Director of Research:Gille, Zsuzsa
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Gille, Zsuzsa
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Zerai, Assata; Ghamari-Tabrizi, Behrooz; Schurman, Rachel
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
neoliberal food regime
Abstract:In 1994, the Mexican government started implementing the North American Free Trade Agreement in the context of a process of neoliberalization of its economy. This new framework demanded deep transformations on that country’s forms of production, commercialization, and consumption of food. The transition however, required that Mexicans accept that new order as normal. This is a multi-sited ethnography and multi-methods qualitative study that examines the on-going process of naturalization of the neoliberal food regime in Mexico and the attempts to destabilize it. I conducted participant observation, archival research, and in-depth interviews in the data collection. With a focus on corn, the most important Mexican food staple, this study examines five terrains of interactions in which the interests of the agro-food industrial complex are both advanced and contested. These terrains are: a) Oaxacan farmers’ work in two communities and their participation in entrepreneurial workshops, b) Mexican journalists’ participation in educational workshops provided by the biotech industry, c) the flourization of Mexican corn tortillas, d) graphic artists’ responses to government funded advertisement campaigns aimed at promoting their agriculture policies, and e) the divide between food sovereignty activists. These are five disparate arenas of stabilization of the neoliberal food regime in Mexico, in which this study recognizes neoliberalization as a transformation happening through peoples’ and institutions’ practices. From this perspective, not applied by most studies of the globalization of food and agriculture, I demonstrate that the neoliberal capital needs to stabilize its material transformation of the Mexican food systems by also reconfiguring peoples’ ways of relating to each other, as well as ways of eating (corn), listening and writing (about industrial agricultural technologies), and remembering (the social history of corn and tortillas).
Issue Date:2013-02-03
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Jose Peralta
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-02-03
Date Deposited:2012-12

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