Reading Europe Against the Grain: A Genealogy of Agricultural Governance

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Biebuyck, William Albert




Utilizing insights from historical and political sociology, this dissertation explores the multitude of ways food, agriculture and rural economy have been governed in Western Europe. As a genealogy of agricultural governance, the project operates on two distinct analytical levels. The first level is analogous to what Charles Tilly labels ‘macro’ political history. The point here is to interrogate the ways agro-food power has been imbricated with historical processes such as statemaking, geopolitics, postwar reconstruction, welfarism and the neoliberalization of economic life. Second, the dissertation aims to make intelligible how agriculture has been created and recreated as a space of government. This will be done by deconstructing its various problems, strategies, objects and mechanisms over time. The project covers a wide swath of history: from the ancien régime to the EU. Nonetheless, the bulk of the empirical investigation will be centered on configurations of ‘European’ agricultural governance over the postwar era. The dissertation ultimately draws two important conclusions from its examination of agro-food power. First, the production and supply of food has always been a central space through which populations have been managed by centralized political authorities – a fact equally true at the national and European levels. Second, the strategies and practices of agricultural governance have been formative in building postwar ‘European government’.


Political Science
European History
Public and Social Welfare




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

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Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Political Science

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Theses and Dissertations

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