The Government of Beans

Regulating Life in the Age of Monocrops

The Government of Beans

Book Pages: 304 Illustrations: 1 illustration Published: May 2020

Subjects
Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Latin American Studies

The Government of Beans is about the rough edges of environmental regulation, where tenuous state power and blunt governmental instruments encounter ecological destruction and social injustice. At the turn of the twenty-first century, Paraguay was undergoing dramatic economic, political, and environmental change due to a boom in the global demand for soybeans. Although the country's massive new soy monocrop brought wealth, it also brought deforestation, biodiversity loss, rising inequality, and violence. Kregg Hetherington traces well-meaning attempts by bureaucrats and activists to regulate the destructive force of monocrops, only to discover that the tools of modern government are at best inadequate to deal with the complex harms of modern agriculture, at worst complicit in making them worse. The book simultaneously tells a local story of people, plants, and government; a regional story of the rise and fall of Latin America's new left; and a story of the Anthropocene writ large, about long-term, paradoxical consequences of destroying ecosystems in the name of human welfare.

Praise

The Government of Beans is an exhilarating read. Kregg Hetherington offers a brilliant theorization of agripolitics built up from the ground up through close observation of how dreams, schemes, laws and a host of small things (beans, trucks, measuring sticks, hedges, insects, traffic jams) transform lives and create new worlds. Anyone tempted by the idea that governing the Anthropocene means finding the right policy, or the right technology, or even the right kind of state, should read this book.” — Tania Murray Li, author of Land’s End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier

“Stimulating, thought-provoking, and beautifully written, The Government of Beans explores what may be politically possible in the face of the overwhelming power of agribusiness and an ineffective and frequently corrupt government. This important and creative book brings histories, dreams, hopes, horrors, ambivalences, and practices to light.” — John Law, author of After Method: Mess in Social Science Research

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Kregg Hetherington is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Concordia University. He is the editor of Infrastructure, Environment, and Life in the Anthropocene and author of Guerrilla Auditors: The Politics of Transparency in Neoliberal Paraguay, both also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Table of Contents Forthcoming
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0689-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0606-0
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