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From the U.S. South to the Global South: Practicing Development at Home
About the talk
Most scholars trace the history of "development" within the American context to President Truman’s 1949 inaugural address, forgetting the innumerable ways in which the United States attempted to modernize "other" peoples in the decades preceding World War II. In this talk I interrogate an important and relatively unremarked site in the genealogy of “development” within the United States: agricultural extension practices that targeted African-American women in the American South in the first decades of the 20th century. I document links between early postwar interventions by the United States into other countries under the guise of agricultural modernization and the U.S.’s own domestic agricultural extension services in the South, focusing on what was called home demonstration work as it pertained to rural women, particularly African American women. Drawing on a range of works that extend from gendered historical analyses of colonialism to critical histories of development, and based on archival research at five different sites and in three states (Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas), I suggest that international development – a form of hegemony different from but related to colonialism – needs to be understood not only as a geopolitical tool of the cold war, but also as a biopolitical technique of governance that took shape within the realm of the domestic and through a racialized gaze.
About the speaker
Mona Domosh is the Joan P. and Edward J. Foley, Jr. 1933 professor of geography at Dartmouth College, and is currently the Vice President of the Association of American Geographers (AAG). Her research has examined the links between gender ideologies and the cultural and material formation of large American cities in the nineteenth century, the role that gender and "whiteness" played in the selling of American products overseas in the early twentieth century, and the geographical imaginations and material practices that underpinned American economic expansion before 1930. She is the author of American Commodities in an Age of Empire (2006); Invented Cities: The Creation of Landscape in 19th-Century New York and Boston (1996); the coauthor of Putting Women in Place: Feminist Geographers Make Sense of the World (2001); The Human Mosaic: A Cultural Approach to Human Geography (2013) and the coeditor of Handbook of Cultural Geography (2002).
This Coffee Hour is co-sponsored by the Department of Women's Studies