<aside> 📢 We are conducting interviews with farm owners and workers during the Spring and Summer of 2022 and we'd love to hear your story. If you'd like to sign up for an interview, please let us know in the form below.
We are writing a book on technology, sustainability, community, and mythologies of small American farms and we'd like your help. We're asking farmers about the agricultural and social technologies (both old and new) they encounter in their work. We are planning to publish this book in 2023 with Rowan and Littlefield.
Interview are conducted by phone or Zoom and typically require thirty minutes to one hour. We focus questions on ways you have built your business, use technology, or use older technologies to produce your product.
<aside> 👤 Your privacy will be respected and we have practices to hide your identity if that is important to you. Please fill out the quick form below and lewis levenberg or David Rheams will reach out to schedule an interview time.
We will tell the story of the contemporary American farmer. Shifts in economics, demographics, and technology have transformed farming in the United States. Now, an alien figure, a farmer-hacker-pirate chimera, emerges to challenge a banal decline into neo-sharecropping. Yet, this new breed of farmer has notable distinctions from previous generations.
Proprietary software in tractors, sensor arrays, and even hand tools has proliferated in the past decade. These levers empower a mere handful of workers to accomplish what used to require legions, but those few farmers may not own the tools they use at all. The data generated from and for these high-tech operations -- and the security thereof -- often remains black-boxed. Farmers who cannot afford monopoly price-gouging on repairs or improvements to those machines must instead learn how to circumvent their economic or technical controls, even for simple maintenance. These movements of people, of capital, and of information throw romantic notions of traditional family farming into stark relief.
In this study, we ask three questions. First, do these waves of change share a root cause, and if so, what is it? Second, what are their lived effects, the physical and emotional experiences of farming in America today? Third, how is farming represented in and by various cultural artifacts and media? We apply research methods from several disciplines to answer these questions: We conduct a meta-analysis of existing scholarship on these topics. We interview farmers and farm workers. We conduct a content analysis of representational media and a technical analysis of specific communication and automation technologies of farming.
Our larger project, organized historically, geographically, and topically, intends to nurture connections in and between rural and agricultural communities. We hope it will bear value to a wide swath of academic, public-policy, activist, environmentalist, and technological interests.
lewis levenberg is an independent scholar and technical consultant who has published extensively on technological topics for over a decade. He lives in upstate New York where he tends to his orchards and volunteers for a horse rescue with his family. lewis completed his doctoral work in Cultural Studies at George Mason University in 2018.
David Rheams is a lecturer at the University of Texas at Dallas in the School or Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communications where he researches the ways people use technology in their day-to-day life. He also lived in rural Louisiana for many years and returns as often as possible to wander with his family under the pine trees. David completed his doctoral work in Cultural Studies at George Mason University in 2018.