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Friday Forum: Annie Shattuck
January 31, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Co-sponsored by UW-Madison’s Department of Geography
Risky Subjects: Pesticide, Vulnerability and Uncertainty in Laos and Beyond
Assistant Professor of Geography
Ingraham Hall, Room 206
Noon – 1:30PM
Globally, pesticide use is increasing significantly faster than food production. The vast majority of the world’s food producers depend on pesticides, and most of those users live in the Global South. Shattuck presents data from Northern Laos, until recently among the world’s lowest per capita pesticide users, to explore the everyday life of pesticides and commodity agriculture as it transforms forests, local livelihoods, and health. Using oral histories, and socio-economic surveys, she looks at the relationship between modern agriculture, vulnerability, and deforestation as old forest-based safety nets are ploughed under for maize to feed growing meat consumption in China and Vietnam. Shattuck interrogates the diverse — and divergent — set of partial knowledge among pesticide users, and ask how small scale farmers’ direct experiences of toxicity both reinforce and transgress the international model for safe use. She describes the ways that what counts as ‘risky’ and ‘safe’ is locally adapted, filtered through rural community dynamics, and bound up with the other risks farmers are facing – the risks of living at the precarious end of a global commodity chain.