Benjamin Cohen

Associate Professor, Engineering Studies and Environmental Studies, Layfayette College 

2018 to 2019
Research Fellow

The Future of Agriculture: A Technological History

Farmers, agronomists, chemists, economists, and policy-makers have long crafted visions for the future of agriculture. Beginning in the later nineteenth century, many of the more developed visions for those futures took on a stridently technological form. The future of agriculture would be better and more productive through the tighter combination of farming and technology. Since the late 1880s, this has gone from mechanical, chemical, and atomic imagery to nuclear, biomolecular, genetic, and nanotechnological. This project is about the ways past visions of the future tell us more about those historical periods than their imagined futures. It helps show how historically specific scientific and technological contexts shape ideas about what the future of agriculture will be. The goal for this work is a book that draws together studies in the history of the future with work in STS and the history of science, technology, and the environment.