Abstract

The recent upsurge in agricultural college enrollments has prompted observers to celebrate the rejuvenation of those institutions and, by extension, rural life. A closer examination suggests otherwise. Rather than engage in traditional agricultural pursuits, agricultural colleges now seek to employ science to produce managers of living biological and ecological systems, managers who will prevent degradation and generally achieve results that ultimately approximate a steady state. Rural America receives markedly little attention in these colleges. This managerial ethos has also overtaken the scholarly discipline of agricultural history. Health and longevity, sustainability and environmentalism have assumed center stage. Whether deliberate or en passant, these new metrics have first supplemented and, in many cases finally supplanted, race, gender, and class as useful categories of historical analysis. The new agricultural history has victims, but it lacks people.

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