Publication Date

April 2018

Advisor(s)

Daniella Gandolfo, Courtney Weiss Smith

Major

Science in Society

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This thesis focuses on one centuries-old orchard in New England and the manifold ways in which it both undermines and 'performs' the dichotomy between nature and culture. Drawing on local archives, ethnographic research and diverse lines of theory addressing the relationship between humans and their environments, my explorations of this particular place have extended down into the soils and out across national borders. Firstly, I examine how racialized notions of 'wilderness' imbue historical accounts of the orchard's colonial past. I then turn to how the operation has evolved into a destination for agritourism and 'alternative' food practices, which commodify 'nature' in ways that belie the orchard's actual modes of functioning. Finally, I explore the orchard's employment of seasonal migrant farmworkers from Jamaica, who mix their labors with the land. The presence and precarious conditions of these workers are largely 'naturalized' by consumers, employers, and other actors. All of these historical and contemporary dimensions of the orchard reveal the politics of nature and the politics of culture in intimate, fluctuating entanglements.

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