CURRENTS: Tracy Perkins (Howard University)
Humanities Work Now
Monday, November 11, 2019 · Noon - 1 PM
Fall 2019 Works-in-Progress Talks
Visualizing the White Farmer Imaginary on California Agricultural Lands
Tracy Perkins, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Howard University; Fall 2019 Inclusion Imperative Visiting Faculty Fellow
Visualizing the White Farmer examines a series of larger-than-life billboards of farmers that dot the agricultural landscape of Central California. The billboards show contented white farmers with pitchforks and shovels in hand, suggesting a nostalgic image of simple rural life. These images belie not only the actual makeup of the agricultural workforce in California, primarily consisting of people of color, but also the size and ownership patterns of contemporary agriculture and the technology used on them. Rather than actual depictions of agricultural life, such images are better understood as examples of a pervasive "white farmer imaginary." Situating her analysis within the context of commodity fetishism and racial capitalism, Perkins argues that such widespread visual misrepresentations of agriculture obscure the persisting dominance of abusive labor conditions within industrial agriculture and render its reform more difficult.