(Re)Integrating Spaces: The Color of Farming
Savannah Law Review, Volume 2, Number 1, 2015
43 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2015
Date Written: September 11, 2015
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, in 2007, 83% of farmers were white men. American farming, it seems, is a white thing. This essay, written for the Savannah Law Review's symposium on "(Re)Integrating Spaces," explores American agriculture as a site of citizenship, and a site of racialization. I argue that since the colonization of America, the idea of farming has been central to stories about who Americans are and ought to be. Agriculture has figured into stories about what it means to live in a democracy; about what it means to be "civilized"; about what it means to own property; about what it means to belong to a place; and about what kind of nation the United States aspires to be. As these stories, told and retold over time, have developed recurring characters and familiar plots, indigenous people, people of African descent, and immigrants from many nations have figured as foils for proper citizenship. Whiteness is not a fixed identity but an argument, and farming has played an important role in shaping the evolution of whiteness as national identity.
Keywords: race, citizenship, agriculture
JEL Classification: N52, Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation