Work Packages

by AdminBioMat

Work Package 1: Reproduction of Nature in the High-Tech Bioeconomy (Miriam Boyer)

This Work Package focuses on the material transformation of living nature as the basis of the High-Tech Bioeconomy. It analyzes how (high) technologies and scientific paradigms in recent decades have shaped the economic valorization of living nature with a focus on two spatial scales: The scale of molecular biotechnologies and the scale of landscapes. The Work Package departs from two key concepts framing both reproduction of nature and economic production in the bioeconomy: ‘biomass’ and ‘biodiversity’. Each is approached from a historical and spatial perspective, showing how they stand in tension to one another, thus shaping the specific materiality of (re)production and valorization of nature in the High-Tech Bioeconomy. The Work Package is informed by theoretical perspectives grounded in critical geography, the critique of political economy and the history of science and technology.

Key words: (Re)production, materiality, (bio)technologies, spatial scales, valorization, high-tech


Work Package 2: Digitalization, Regulation and Democratization in the High-Tech-Bioeconomy (Sarah Hackfort)

The work package analyzes the role and the impact of precision technologies in different processes of appropriating and valorizing nature in the bioeconomy. It focuses on technologies that create an interface with bio-based processes at different scales (e.g. agricultural data platforms, precision agriculture, or digitally-enabled molecular biotechnologies). By doing so, it approaches high-tech transformations in the agri-food system as part of the bioeconomy and their implications for production and reproduction processes. To do so, it brings together political ecology perspectives with debates around technology and digitalization. Main research questions are a) how do the technologies shape and are shaped by power, inequalities and conflicts (e.g. over patents or data), b) what role do political institutions and societal actors play therein and c) how can the technologies and the social relations in which they are embedded be democratized? Research is informed by theoretical perspectives grounded in feminist theory, democracy theory, political ecology and critical perspectives on nature and technology. Empirical field work is planned in Germany, USA/Canada and Mexico.

Key words: politics of digitalization, democracy and (bio)technology, high-tech agriculture


Work Package 3: Digitalization and Food production in the Bioeconomy (Louisa Prause)

This work package brings together debates on digital capitalism and digital labor with the fields of critical agrarian studies and political ecology. The research looks at how digitalization impacts land and labor relations in agricultural food production with a specific focus on the impact of digital technologies on labor struggles and land conflicts. Key questions are how new forms of labor control are facilitated through digital technologies, how these technologies bring about new forms of resistance and how labor organisations and movements engage with digitalisation in food production. The work package furthermore looks at how digital technologies contribute to changes in the access to and control over land and the conflicts associated with changes in land control and land use. Theoretically, the work package will contribute to conceptualizing the ‘digital’ and the relationship between digital technologies and capitalist developments in the countryside. Field research for this work package is carried out in Germany and South Africa.

Key words: digital capitalism, agrarian labor, land conflicts, agrarian and labor movements


Work Package 4: The Political Economy of Forest-Based Bioeconomies: High-Tech, Conflicts, and Reproduction (Anna Saave)

The work package analyzes how forest use is organized economically and within national bioeconomic strategies. In the transition from a fossil-based to a more sustainable bio-based economy, great hopes are placed on forest use systems as they provide a wide range of resources. At the same time, forest bioeconomies are characterized by use conflicts exacerbated by the expansion of the bioeconomy and socio-ecological crises. By analyzing four types of forest use, the work package deepens a comprehensive understanding of appropriation and externalization processes related to harnessing living nature. Further focal points are the logics of the use of high-tech in timber producing forests and the changes in forest use through struggles for and against valorization. The work package draws from theoretical perspectives of political economy and critical sustainability studies as well as from feminist perspectives. Field research is planned in Canada. 

Key words: political economy, forest bioeconomies, (re)production, high-tech, appropriation, externalization, valorization


Work Package 5: Work, Value, and High Technology in the Bioeconomy (Johannes Fehrle)

This work package conceptualizes the economic and social practices that underlie the bioeconomy. The focus lies on the relation between labor, value, and the role of (high) technology. The goal of the first block is to bring together approaches from political economy and political ecology and adapt them to the realities of a technologically and economically altered biocapitalism. A second block engages conceptions of high technology in automation theory, feminist political ecology, and science and technology studies. It examines visions for a sustainable and just agricultural food production of the future in light of proclamations of a supposed end of human labor through automation technologies.

Key words: political economy, political ecology, work, value, technology, sustainability, just transition