From Fellow Prakash Kumar: I used “genealogies” as an entry point with the intent to investigate the historical depth of social movements in India around GMOs. I am currently working on two book length projects on postcolonial agriculture in India.

The first deals with the history of the “green revolution” up to 1971 and the second with the arrival of an even more globally oriented, modernist phase in Indian agriculture from the 1980s. The progressivist role of the India state and elites, the connections of Indian agriculture with American expertise, and the deeper drive for autonomy in agrarian movements  in India are recurrent in nature.

The trope of genealogies enabled me precisely to analyze such unapparent precedents.


Key Terms

Biotechnology: The technique of transferring genes across species for creating a new cell that can in turn be used to develop full-blown plants and animals.

Hybrids: New plant varieties developed through controlled breeding to develop desired characteristics among new lines of plants.

Discussion Questions 

1) What aspects of the past are difficult to capture through archive-based tellings of history?

2) Is science “constructed”?

Supplemental Readings 

Bose, S. (2006). A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Chaplin, J. (2012). Round the Earth: Circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Chatterjee, P. (2012). The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Connelly, M. (2008). Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Cullather, N. (2010). The Hungry World: America’s Cold War Battle against Hunger in Asia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Ferguson, J. (1994). Anti-Politics Machine: Development, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Lake, M. and Reynolds, H. (2008). Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Inequality. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Karl, R. (2002). Staging the World: Chinese Nationalism at the Turn of the Twentieth Century. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Ogborn, M. (2008). Global Lives: Britain and the World, 1550-1800. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Pratt, M.L. (1992). Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. New York, NY: Routledge.

Can be taught with these Framing the Global chapters 

  • Mascarenhas/Land: For ethnographic studies of activists.
  • Gille/Materiality: For understanding commodity histories.
  • Bartley/Rules: For an understanding of agro-ecological concerns within the template of free-market capitalism.


Richard White’s Spatial History Project


1) Compare the evolution of Vandana Shiva’s worldview by consulting any ONE article each written by her in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

2) Document all newspaper reports on the fight over the neem patent.

3) Document all newspaper reports on the fight over the basmati patent.