December 02, 2020

Food Regimes, Life-Worlds Enclosure and Planetary Crisis

Wednesday, December 2, 2020 

Philip McMichael, Cornell University

Philip McMichael is a Professor of Global Development at Cornell University. Author of Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective (Sage, 2017), Food Regimes and Agrarian Questions (Fernwood, 2013), and the award-winning Settlers and the Agrarian Question (Cambridge, 1984), he has also edited Contesting Development. Critical Struggles for Social Change (Routledge, 2010), and co-edited Finance or Food? The role of cultures, values and ethics in land use negotiations (U Toronto Press, 2020), with Hilde Bjørkhaug, and Bruce Muirhead. He works with the Civil Society Mechanism in the UN Committee on World Food Security.


In 2018, the global Inter-Academy Partnership (140 national academies of science and medicine) reported on our ‘broken global food system,’ given rising public health failures and obesity rates, and ecosystem degradation. While Covid now exposes the fragility and ill-health of the global food system, it also discloses the invisibilization of local, territorial food systems by hegemonic ‘world food security’ discourse. This crisis conjuncture is examined through a food regime lens: involving displacement of farming cultures via land enclosure to industrialize food for export, and continuing processes of ‘dispossession by accumulation.’ Colonization of food producers and choices in turn entails cumulative degradation of global ecological public health. The world is in a ‘shock doctrine’ moment, with corporate capture of international political initiative threatening to further elevate ‘food from nowhere’ over the ‘food from somewhere’ principle.

Unthinking the Climate Bomb: Civilizational Crises, Class Struggles and Climate History in the Holocene and Beyond

Tuesday, Nov 10, 2020 

Jason W. Moore, Binghamton University

Jason W. Moore is an environmental historian and historical geographer at Binghamton University, where he is professor of sociology. He is author or editor, most recently, of Capitalism in the Web of Life (Verso, 2015), Capitalocene o Antropocene? (Ombre Corte, 2017), Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism (PM Press, 2016), and, with Raj Patel, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things (University of California Press, 2017). His books and essays on environmental history, capitalism, and social theory have been widely recognized, including the Alice Hamilton Prize of the American Society for Environmental History (2003), the Distinguished Scholarship Award of the Section on the Political Economy of the World-System (American Sociological Association, 2002 for articles, and 2015 for Web of Life), and the Byres and Bernstein Prize in Agrarian Change (2011). He coordinates the World-Ecology Research Network. He can be reached at:


The trajectory of the climate crisis needn’t be a doomsday scenario. To get beyond today’s proliferation of climate doomsday porn, we’ll need to look closely at two entangled histories. One turns on the Cold War imaginary of nuclear armageddon, whose quite tangible “bomb” metamorphosed into Paul Ehrlich’s landmark The Population Bomb, in which “too many people” portended a not-too-distant doomsday of famine, poverty, pestilence, and war. While the particulars have changed since 1968, today’s dominant environmental imaginary routinely narrates the climate crisis as a clash of Man and Nature, with End Times clearly visible on the horizon: a climate bomb. A second history looks at the mosaic of human-centered relations of power and re/production in the web of life -- a history in which climate conditions and changes figure prominently. Giving special focus to the relations of climate, class, and civilization over the past seven centuries, environmental historian Jason W. Moore shows how climate shifts have been implicated in profound suffering and violence, but also in the emergence of new possibilities for egalitarian politics. Not for nothing, the “little ice ages” of late antiquity and the later middle ages witnessed the epochal weakening of mass slavery and serfdom. To make sense of these new possibilities, however, we’ll need to let go of “Man and Nature” and its love affair with the apocalypse -- and begin to unthink the climate bomb.